Kampala City, Uganda’s capital and commercial centre, is home to about 70% of the country’s small, medium and large manufacturing businesses and accounts for nearly half of Uganda’s 40 billion USD total Gross Domestic Product (World Bank,2021). The rapid urbanization of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) has led to increased impervious surfaces in ecologically sensitive areas such as steep slopes, wetlands and flood plains relevant for flood control, resulting in accelerated and often devastating runoff of water. The city’s existing drainage system, which was designed for a much smaller and less densely built city, is quite old and poorly managed and can no longer cope with the runoff from the rapidly expanding built-up areas.
The situation is further exacerbated by frequent clogging of the drainage system with solid waste, often originating from the city’s informal settlements. All of this increases the likelihood of flooding of critical areas such as road crossings, industrial areas, business premises and residential suburbs in the low-lying informal settlements. Of major concern is the wide-spread nature of the flooding and the increasing frequency of more intense flooding events, also attributed to climate change. Efforts to address the flooding challenge are limited in scope and often constrained, among others, by the city`s insufficient financial resources. However, also the lack of cooperation between stakeholders represents a hurdle to implementing effective solutions.
Addressing the flooding challenge in Kampala requires a multi-sectoral approach, involving all stakeholders (public, private actors and communities) to work collaboratively to develop and implement integrated flood risk management solutions which are scalable and context specific.
It’s against this background that partners from all sectors started to collaborate under the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership. The partnership`s objective is to improve urban resilience to flooding, thereby enhancing socio-economic development in Greater Kampala. Partners therefore jointly promote investments in nature-based “blue-green infrastructure” such as regreening of drainage channels, bioswales and retention ponds, as well as further inclusive solutions, in priority hot-spot areas. This way, they want to showcase the effectiveness of natural flood protection mechanisms in mitigating flooding, thereby protecting livelihoods and businesses` basis of operations, contributing to sustained socio-economic development. Partners also aim at developing innovative ways of using human-engineered “grey” infrastructure for better flood control.
The partnership follows the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF). The NRAF is a holistic approach developed by NatuReS to tackle shared natural resources risks in a participative manner. It guides initiation and implementation of natural resources stewardship partnerships through a series of tailored tools.
Together, partners developed a comprehensive Partnership Action Plan (PAP). The PAP is a commitment by all partners to support the implementation of jointly agreed activities. These activities include:
Developing strategies for the integration of blue-green infrastructure solutions, creating an evidence base for their effectiveness in mitigating flooding
Promoting investment and piloting of “blue-green” infrastructure and innovative “grey” solutions for flood resilience in selected catchments
Fostering behavioral change and stakeholder empowerment in the development of flood mitigation solutions
Encouraging rainwater harvesting within the private sector
Partnership Action Plan Launch
The PAP was formally launched during a ceremony at the Ministry of Water and Environment on the 5th of August 2022. His Worship Paul Mugambe, the Mayor of Kampala`s Nakawa Division, presided over the ceremony as a guest of honour.He congratulated partners for their foresightedness in establishing the partnership to jointly find solutions for the recurring flash floods in Greater Kampala. Often, they are caused by an insufficient, dilapidated and poorly managed drainage systems, combined with poor solid waste management, particularly of plastic waste, resulting in clogged drainage channels. The mayor underlined that, as part of the City’s Development Master Plan, strengthening the city’s resilience to climate change through the implementation of sustainable measures has been set as a priority by Kampala Capital City Authority.
The partnership chairperson, Dr. Benon Zaake, the Commissioner for Water Resources Monitoring and Assessment at the Ministry of Water and Environment, highlighted that rapid urbanization coupled with improper solid waste management in the GKMA has exacerbated the flooding problem to the extent that the existing drainage systems can no longer cope with the situation. He commended partners for prioritizing the integration of blue-green infrastructure solutions into Kampala’s flood management strategies. Moreover, he reaffirmed the Ministry`s commitment to the partnership and urged all partners to dedicate their agreed time and resources towards ensuring successful implementation of the PAP.
Other high officials included the Deputy Mayor of Rubaga Division, Ms. Rehema Fugge, and the Executive Secretary for Public Health and Social Services for Rubaga division, Mr. Emmanuel Kizza. They both expressed their gratitude towards the partnership and the important role it is playing in jointly working towards a flood resilient Greater Kampala.
Following the successful launch of the PAP, partners now move into the next phase (“Act”), focusing on accelerated implementation of agreed activities.
The 21st century will be the century of cities. By 2050, urban areas will house an estimated 2/3 of the world’s population; current and predicted growth is deemed strongest across Asia and Africa. The power of this urban transformation means cities will lead national, regional, and global decisions related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
A key challenge in this regard is the impact of urbanization on (peri-)urban ecosystems, including the related consumption of natural resources. Uncontrolled urbanization is associated with inefficient land use and pollution through waste, industry, transport, and inadequate sanitation. The resulting degradation of ecosystems such as wetlands, soils, and waterways undermine the resilience of cities, including their ability to prepare for and cope with the challenges of increasingly volatile climate patterns and depleting natural resources. Furthermore, many communities lack the capacity and agency to participate effectively in developing integrated and evidence-based urban planning mechanisms. Insufficient coordination between private, public, and civil society actors is a significant obstacle to taking ambitious local action to reduce emissions and increase urban resilience.
In this context, the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) has supported a stewardship approach to collectively address urban natural resource risks in five African countries. Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zambia have successfully implemented multi-stakeholder stewardship partnerships that have improved the collective management of natural resources within those countries. By bringing together empowered communities, government stakeholders, and robust and engaging private sector actors, these partnerships can better develop solutions and increase resilience to the challenges cities face than the individual sectors could do on their own.
During an inter-country learning exchange on the 30th of June 2022, more than 60 participants discussed the benefits of collective action in addressing risks to natural resources in urban contexts, the prevailing challenges this entails, and lessons learnt from partnership experiences.
Experiences from the public sector
Mr. Allan Nkurunzinza from Kampala Capital City Authority in Uganda shared rewarding experiences Kampala has made with stewardship through the PET Task Force, which led to the formation of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. Mr. Nkurunzinza stressed how effective stewardship entails tapping into the strengths of all stakeholders. Leveraging funding, technical, human, and other necessary resources from all sectors is crucial to meeting the goal of efficient service delivery to all city residents while resisting natural disasters. The Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership is another example of partners working towards increased city resilience through a collaborative approach. Mr. Nkurunzinza described the establishment of solid partnerships. While often a lengthy process, it is a “win-win” for all sectors, as partnerships offer the possibility to gather input from all different spheres, especially from the affected communities. Multi-stakeholder partnerships lead to developing solutions that are owned and supported by everybody.
Similarly, Mrs. Bwalya Funga Ndolesha from Lusaka City Council (LCC) shared insights from Lusaka, Zambia, where flooding and the emergence of diseases, particularly in informal settlements, represent a significant risk. Mrs. Ndolesha underlined that it is worth investing time and effort into establishing platforms for engagement and leveraging resources (both human and financial). The Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), a multi-stakeholder collaboration system of which LCC and over 32 other entities are members, is for example making progress toward protecting groundwater in recharge areas. Communities play a key role in planning and capacity needs to be built at community level. Communities should develop Local Area Plans (LAPs) that feed into the integrated development plans to foster development at city level. The local area planning process should also take into account all issues affecting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), further creating community water stewardship awareness. LuWSI’s common platform has helped to map out stakeholders, available resources, and potential activities that will benefit from collective attention.
As part of a collaborative effort, LuWSI is contributing to a city-wide Integrated Development Plan to protect water resources based on issues identified in the LAPs. Other enabling factors for successful partnerships are political support and partner will. For example, the Mayor of Lusaka and city councilors participated in a water security training sponsored by LuWSI. Subsequently, LCC passed a resolution requiring that city planning decisions consider community water security. LCC’s appreciation for water security led to regulations regarding shallow wells and pit latrines to respect groundwater protection standards, among other things.
Experiences from the private sector
From the private sector, Mr. Phil Daka, CEO of the Zambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry(ZACCI) stressed the importance of mainstreaming the agenda of water and natural resources stewardship into boardroom discussions. His emphasis on water stewardship dovetails with the sustainable development agenda, mentioning that if we are to achieve laudable environmental surveillance outcomes, we must integrate sustainability into the planning and measurement systems of business enterprises.
The concept of water stewardship must be articulated in terms that are familiar to business leaders. For the enterprise, water stewardship means adopting business strategies and activities that meet the needs of the enterprise and its stakeholders today while protecting, sustaining and enhancing the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future. Some businesses are already practicing resource use efficiency to reduce costs and increase their competitiveness and investment attractivity. Partnerships can be a way to hold companies accountable for the way they are operating and producing. Stewardship partnerships like LuWSI create awareness about problems businesses can face and ways to resolve them. Mr. Daka gave the example of Lusaka, where even small amounts of rainfall can lead to flooding. While people mainly attribute this to poor urban planning, there are other causes and exacerbating factors – one is the blockage of drainage channels through waste dumped by individuals and enterprises. Reflecting on this issue within a partnership creates learning opportunities; behavior change is therefore possible. LuWSI supports mainstreaming of collaboratively developed solutions to shared challenges into city-wide frameworks.
Mr.Peter Okwoko from TakaTaka Plastics, a local plastic recycling company in Gulu, Northern Uganda, also shared insights from participating in a stewardship partnership in an urban context. Poor waste management represents one of the biggest challenges for Gulu as a rapidly growing city. Under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership, partners have set up 40 plastic “banks” where residents can deliver their plastic waste instead of littering the environment. Company members pick it up and recycle or up-cycle it into new products like roofing tiles. The partnership prevents two tons of plastic from ending up in landfills every month, saving time and transport costs for the City Council and is on a trajectory to recycle nine tons per month by the end of the year. One of the most challenging aspects remains to change communities’ mindset about waste management, as many people don’t see it as their responsibility but as the City Council’s task. Through establishing regular dialogue, partnerships can contribute to changing this mindset. Another challenge is the lack of city-level regulations and by-laws regarding waste management. However, through partnerships, companies like TakaTaka get better access to city authorities and can voice their concerns and suggestions in a more targeted way. Finally, Mr. Okwoko recommended bringing more members of academia into stewardship partnerships.
Experiences from civil society
Mr. Benard Loum from Community, Empowerment, Education, Development (CEED)Uganda talked about the involvement of community members in partnerships. One of CEED’s priorities is involving young people and ensuring they become responsible for their environmental impacts. In the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership`s Partnership Action Plan, CEED advocated for making behavioral change one of the key priorities. For example, Gulu City Council has released a new plan for the city’s development. Under the partnership, CEED is now responsible for involving the community in its uptake and further action to ensure its implementation aligns with community interests. Community empowerment is vital according to Mr. Loum: “We need to make community members become consultants in their own rights.” Through activities such as community dialogues, radio programs, and environmental clubs in schools, communities are encouraged that their contribution can have a significant impact. Rather than needing more regulations, Mr. Loum urges the enforcement of existing regulations. Partnerships, creating platforms for transparency and accountability, are essential in this regard.
Finally, Fatima Nkhuwa from the Kamulanga Ward Development Committee in Lusaka reiterated that communities are too often not included in city planning decisions, such as deciding the location of boreholes. Moreover, communities are often unaware of their shared responsibility for common resources, be it by calling attention to a leaking community water pump or by preventing the vandalizing of community infrastructure. External and internal perceptions that the community is irrelevant regarding decision-making or action reinforce community disempowerment. Lusaka City Council and the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) participated in LuWSI-sponsored training focused on community-level city planning, including involving communities in urban decision-making. LuWSI also helped community members better understand their importance as drivers for change by exposing them to private and public sector stakeholders as equal partners, increasing their level of both awareness and empowerment. “We really have seen a transformation regarding the communities under LuWSI,” concluded Mrs. Nkhuwa.
Panel discussion between all sectors
During a subsequent panel discussion, participants shared other experiences from stewardship partnerships. Participants agreed that establishing partnerships ensures the long-term continuity of activities. Collaborative platforms offer an opportunity to continuously discuss joint issues and solutions instead of only implementing emergency actions in reaction to problems. Long-term solutions developed under a collective action approach are essential to prevent the scarcity or endangerment of natural resources. Stewardship is a powerful approach to mindset change.
Awareness creation and empowerment of communities under stewardship partnerships are significant levers to initiate lasting change. According to Eddy Chikuta, LuWSI Coordinator, if community members become stewards of the environment, they will themselves get active in improving waste management instead of waiting for authorities. For the private sector, partnerships also offer an opportunity to implement their sustainability targets collaboratively, get better access to mandated duty bearers, and prevent conflicts with adjacent communities in the first place.
As a final point, learning event participants agreed that public authorities cannot solve natural resource challenges independently, although citizens often demand this. Collaborative partnerships can develop joint solutions and leverage financial and in-kind resources to support project implementation. Participants agreed that it is high time to realize that one sector cannot achieve sustainable development alone. Instead, all actors must fully and independently subscribe to it. Stewardship partnerships are a successful way to go, especially in increasing cities’ resilience.
The uMhlathuze River Catchment in South Africa is located on the North-East coast of KwaZulu-Natal. In the past, droughts have posed a severe risk to the catchment. However, recently also destructive floods are threatening the area. Additionally, water quality is a major concern, particularly downstream. Partners under the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP) are working together to tackle these challenges in a collective way. However, while it is by now widely acknowledged that an integrated approach to water resource management is needed (IWRM), the success of IWRM has been hampered by factors like limited stakeholder engagement or the lack of integrative decision support systems and tools for good governance of water resources, especially due to a lack of resources and data.
The Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) supports UWASP`s efforts for enhanced water security in the uMhlathuze River Catchment. On the 7th July 2022, AWARD and UWASP held a stakeholder workshop in Richards Bay for the launch of real-time flow tracking tools in the uMhlathuze River Catchment in support of integrated water resources management. The tools are supported by real-time data from water resources and users to assist authorities in making informed decisions on water management, while supporting stakeholder involvement in IWRM and raising awareness for a responsible use and management of water. The tools, when embedded in a robust and collaborative governance system, can support real-time flow monitoring at gauged stations. This enables compliance water monitoring and early warning systems as part of disaster preparedness and for planning and setting operating rules.
The work includes a desktop-based app as an integrated decisions-support system called “INWARDS-Lite” and the installation of additional flow monitoring equipment. It is supported by UWASP management and funding partners, including the National Business Initiative (NBI), WWF, the paper producer Mondi and NatuReS. The workshop brought together stakeholders from, or working in, the uMhlathuze River Catchment to the launch of a draft version of the “FlowTracker uMhlathuze” as well as the decision-support system “INWARDS-Lite”.
Previously to the workshop, the AWARD team, together with UWASP and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) representatives, visited the catchment and the respective priority sites, including the gauging stations, to assess their status in person. Based on the workshop and feedback of the stakeholders, both the mobile and desktop versions will be refined. The final versions will be available in the beginning of October. The current versions of the tools can be accessed via:
Commercial flower farming is a water dependant and -intensive sector. For example, the water footprint to produce one rose is estimated to be 7-13 litres. In Uganda, 13 out of a total of 15 commercial flower farms are located around the Lake Victoria basin, the world’s second largest freshwater lake. They derive their water for production mainly from the lake, but also from groundwater boreholes.
Water source protection planning and implementation
To ensure that the flower farms are using their water sources sustainably, compliance with national regulations is crucial. In 2013, the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment through the Directorate of Water Resources Management, developed Water Source Protection Planning (WSPP) Guidelines (available here: The Ministry of Water and Environment). Five volumes were issued, each on a specific type of infrastructure project, namely point water sources, piped water sources, dams and irrigation schemes and hydropower plants. According to these guidelines, each infrastructure project with water use is expected to prepare and implement a Water Source Protection Plan.
Under the Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership, a 2-day training was conducted to build the capacity of commercial flower farms on water source protection planning and implementation. The training was held on 21st and 22nd of July at the Water Resources Institute in Entebbe. It was organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment through the Water Resources Institute (WRI), Uganda Flowers Exporters Association (UFEA) and NatuReS. During the training, regulators, developers, and commercial flower farms came together to break their silos and share experiences and lessons around water source protection planning and implementation for the sustainable management of water sources.
The training was opened by Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner for Water Resources Regulation and Planning, followed by Anna Pamberg, Country Coordinator NatuReS Uganda, and Esther Nekambi, Executive Director of UFEA, each giving their remarks on the importance of the training. During the first sessions, participants were introduced to integrated water resources management and the five volumes of water source protection guidelines.
From theory into practice, a big focus of the training was put on understanding the guidelines, the importance of water source protection and how to plan and implement water source protection measures at farm level. Regulators and other developers shared examples of water source protection plans. A short visit to Lake Victoria offered participants practical insights into the various concepts and methods outlined in the WSPP Guidelines and the necessity to protect the available water resources.
Moving to the protection of their own flower farm water sources, the second day started with a group exercise where participants had to identify and map their farm’s water sources, water source protection challenges, causes of those challenges, and possible solutions. Based on this, the participants developed action plans containing next steps for water source protection planning at their respective farms. This activity helped the participants in understanding and applying the threats, pathways, and water source included in the conceptual model to their own situation.
Equipped with these action plans and an increased knowledge on water source protection planning and implementation, participants are now able to approach their respective management to initiate next steps towards the protection of their farms’ water sources. Participants left the training also better prepared for their own role at the farms, as far as water source protection is concerned. Thanks to better protected water sources on the farms, investments in the sector can be safeguarded. Bringing together members from 13 commercial flower farms has finally also contributed to building a network of sharing and learning between the farms and fostering sector cooperation.
“Now I have acquired knowledge on water resource protection and am willing to practice it at our farm.”
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