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Uganda Water Umbrellas's Partnership

Austria supports the Ugandan government in providing access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation to a large part of the country. The "UWUP" programme with local structures and national financing mechanisms was developed from a pilot project set up in 1996 at the beginning of the Austrian Development Agency´s engagement in the water sector in Uganda. The yearlong engagement shows how important it is to bring in competence in a sensible way and to have enough patience as far-reaching structural changes need time. Capacity development needs a sense of cooperation and a coordinated approach between all partners. The Umbrella Organizations (UOs) as well as the Ministry of Water/Directorate of Water Developmet (MWE/DWD) attach great importance to the fact that Austrian water sector organisations are involved and the successful and inspiring cooperation (e.g. with Upper Austria Water) can be continued.

The external monitoring of the South Western Towns Water and Sanitation Program phase III10 initiated by the European Commission states that the role of the UO is instrumental in ensuring the sustainability of project results. At the same time it is acknowledged that the capacity of the UO still needs to be strengthened. In the monitoring report it is finally suggested to “...consider supporting the South Western Umbrella Organisation capacity building in the framework of the ongoing Water Facility Call for Proposals”. The umbrella model has been up-scaled from regional project to national level. Consequently all five UOs will be beneficiary partners of the proposed partnership.

How lessons learnt have been integrated into the action´s design

Sustainable service delivery is closely linked to financial viability and functional operation and management arrangements. The Water and Sanitation Development Facilities (WSDFs) create a favourable basis by ensuring sound planning, affordable design, high-quality workmanship, early community mobilisation and the initial set-up of institutional O&M structures and management contracts. The most important lesson learnt is that rural communities and the local authorities of small towns often need continuous support and backstopping as well as capacity building in terms of asset management, financial management and technical training. A successful approach to provide these “after-construction” services is the umbrella model. The action‟s design therefore puts the five Ugandan UOs at the centre. The specific capacity gaps to be addressed and the intervention logic of the proposed project have been jointly identified by means of a participatory process with a specific view to the needs of the beneficiaries and involving all project partners11. An intense consultation process lead to the identification of qualified Austrian partners that have the potential to respond to the UOs specific needs at best. At the basis of intense workshops the range of possible support as regards content were outlined and the necessary enabling conditions were defined.

Capacity development approach

Based on a preliminary analysis of the current UOs‟ functions and potential incompatibilities, certain key issues to be addressed by the planned action have been jointly identified and defined. The three thematic foci are (i) institutional strengthening in a broad sense, (ii) a country-wide consistent approach to capacity development; and (iii) water resource quantity & quality surveillance. The expected results 1-3 reflect these thematic foci and define key activities for achieving them. Furthermore, the expected results 4 and 5 aim, among others, at improving the capacities of the UOs relating to internal processes (e.g. performance monitoring and reporting) and at the dissemination of the UOs' benefits for potential member schemes.
The UOs, some of which have been founded only recently whilst others are well established, have different “points of departure” and hence different needs. During the inception phase the key issues to be addressed within the framework of the planned project will be further detailed and specified for each UO individually.

The kick-off workshop

marks the end of the inception phase and the start of the implementation phase and will bring together Austrian and Ugandan partners from national to regional level. A major output of this workshop will be the joint vision of the anticipated position of the UOs at the end of the project. Thereby, an important step towards a better definition of the role and responsibilities of UOs while ensuring coherence within the national sector framework will be made. During the kick-off workshop the specific expressed need of each individual UO will be jointly considered, a process that will integrate the Austrian partners´ external view. Based on this, “adequate responses” to the expressed need of each UO will be discussed in order to achieve the anticipated position of the UOs. This workshop provides the framework for defining the “point of departure” with a view to the project´s logical framework and therein defined indicators. The kick-off workshop is coupled with a field visit in order to introduce the Austrian partners to the practical constraints and challenges the UOs face in their day-to-day work.
For an effective implementation of the planned action these “adequate responses” need to be broken down to concrete activities. Concrete activities can take place at different levels – from national (e.g. the clarification of the mandates of different regional organisations) to local (e.g. specific challenges in the post-conflict environment in Northern Uganda) level. The resulting activities may therefore, be relevant for all UOs or may address the specific, expressed demand of one or more UOs.
A key implementation principle is to build on existing capacity and strengthen it according to the identified needs by making use of external capacity, i.e. through knowledge sharing. Another important principle is to facilitate experience sharing between the UOs in order to attain an equally high level of capacity.
Therefore in response to the expressed demand during project implementation, useful Austrian / Ugandan or international expertise will be identified. Based on this, the concrete activities will be fine tuned, planned and implemented (for a detailed sequence of activities see also 1.8. Methodology). The Project Management Consultant (PMC) supports this process and ensures that the planned activities are well targeted, specific and realistic while fitting into the overall logical framework.

Overview on the action´s partnership – all partners and associates