Development and Validation of the Water Source Protection Implementation Plan for Oyitino micro-catchment in Gulu City, Uganda
Gulu City lies within the Albert Nile and Aswa Catchments of the Upper Nile Water Management Zone. Both catchments are characterized by high vulnerability to dry spells. Changing climate conditions of recent years have led to the drying -up of the Oyitino valley dam, Oyitino 2 reservoir and the associated streams, which serve as main water source for the city. The degradation of the micro-catchment is exacerbated by increasing anthropogenic activities such as the indiscriminate disposal of solid and liquid waste, the growing number of settlements with unplanned and unauthorised constructions, the entry of pesticides and nutrients from agricultural practices and other activities such as brick making, stone quarrying, and sand mining within the Oyitino micro-catchment. This accelerating rate of catchment degradation poses a significant risk to the catchment’s capacity as provider of ecosystem services for the City’s businesses and population.
To support the restoration of Oyitino micro-catchment’s ecological state, various actors joined forces under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership (GICMP). Partners include i.e. the Ministry of Water and Environment-Upper Nile Water Management zone (MWE), Gulu City Council (GCC), National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC), TakaTaka Plastics Ltd, CEED Uganda. Together, they aim at complementing NWSC’s efforts in implementing source protection activities, specifically for Oyitino 2 within the Oyitino micro-catchment.
Recently, they have developed and validated the Oyitino micro-catchment Water Source Protection Implementation Plan (WSPIP). The WSPIP identifies interventions that are needed to mitigate existing and future risks to the water source and improve its long-term resilience. The activities are categorized under three packages:
(1) natural-ecological restoration (hardware and soft activities) such as stabilizing banks with elephant grass and sensitisation of micro-catchment users for responsible behaviour within the catchment,
(2) alternative livelihood options which do not harm the environment such as bee-keeping and fish farming, and
(3) capacity strengthening of the Oyitino 1 and Oyitino 2 Water Source Protection Coordination Committee (WSPC), which will continuously monitor and spearhead sustainable management of the micro-catchment based on the WSPI.
Moreover, the plan provides a roadmap to coordinate partner actions and serves to leverage government and private investments, among other things.
“Water Security means having the right quantity and quality of water to meet different needs including industrial, domestic, navigation, energy production. It means making sure that water becomes an opportunity and not a problem,” says Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner for Water Resources Planning and Regulation at the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment.
Realising water security remains a challenge
In the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA), Uganda’s economic hub, realising water security remains a challenge. Results from the Pressure-State-Impact-Response (PSIR) framework applied in assessing water security threats in GKMA determined an overall water security index of 32% (WSAIP Technical Report, 2020). On average, 68% of GKMA’s population has access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water; in Western parts, that percentage drops to as low as 23%.
Even though over the last 20 years Uganda has experienced a high rate of economic growth, leading to a reduction in headcount poverty, the creation of around half a million jobs per year, and improved access to basic services, further growth plans and the high population growth and urbanisation rate are prompting severe environmental risks for both the population and the economy. Issues like wetland encroachment, unregulated wastewater discharge and poor solid waste management have had detrimental effects on Uganda’s natural ecosystems.
Unchecked, these developments threaten to reduce wetland coverage to 64 square kilometres, only one third of the 1996 coverage, further deteriorate the quality of GKMA’s only freshwater supply at the Inner Murchison Bay, increase flood risk and subsequent economic costs associated to flooding by 180%, and have 11,000 tonnes of solid waste end up in the environment daily, further exacerbating surface water pollution and flooding.
In response, the Ministry of Water and Environment alongside its partners is taking various measures, including expanding the sewerage network, investing in faecal sludge management, protecting ecosystems including wetlands, forests and lake shores, and improving drainage networks around the metropolis. The ministry is also strengthening inclusive stakeholder participation by enabling stakeholders to take part in the process of identifying problems, causes and the solutions. Most recently, the Ministry, private sector actors, as well as civil society, have engaged jointly in the development of the Water Security Action and Investment Plan (WSAIP) for Greater Kampala Metropolitan Areas (GKMA).
The Water Security Action and Investment Plan: a blueprint response to mitigate water security threats
The WSAIP is a blueprint response to mitigate water security threats arising from increased urbanisation and is intended to improve the evidence base for understanding the status and future trends of water security in Greater Kampala. It has created a space for local organisations and individuals from the public, private and civil society to co-design bottom-up integrated solutions that address multiple problems from multiple perspectives. At the same time, actors acquire the capacity to better understand the problems, identify the solutions needed, and opportunities for them to play a role in establishing a water-secure future. This inclusiveness throughout the whole WSAIP process represents a great asset, as it ensures the plan’s anchoring across all sectors of the metropolitan area.
The multi-stakeholder approach along the WSAIP process engaged over 1500 stakeholders across GKMA administrative units, mirroring the geographical boundaries of environmental systems. Relying on administrative units to manage wetlands and river catchments that by nature traverse administrative boundaries, provides for a difficult regulatory environment which often obstructs the ability to make major advancements in water security.
The WSAIP development process involved inception meetings with community leaders and private sector actors to build consensus on the understanding of water security, risks faced and possible solutions to deliver the desired change for a water-secure GKMA.
The importance of the ideation process
A key step was the ideation process, where stakeholders distilled a long list of 67 project ideas into 13 water security investment opportunities, using an evidence-based decision support framework that enabled them to make informed decisions. The Scenario Planning Tool (SPT) provided screening-level information on key water security threats, while the Water Security Investment Model (WaSIM) utilised an Excel-based platform to present information available in the SPT, along with information on the characteristics of selected investment actions. The 13 prioritised investment projects share a vision to rehabilitate wetlands, reduce water and environmental pollution, increase urban forest cover, and increase access to safe water and sanitation services.
Stakeholders acknowledge that water security cannot be attained in the short-term. Dr. Najib Bateganya Lukooya, the Ag. Deputy Director Sanitation and Environment at the Directorate of Public Health and Environment at Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), intimates that a water-secure Greater Kampala is a long-term goal which requires systematic and consistent planning, investment, and collaboration of all partners. The goal is achievable but requires the buy-in of all key stakeholders. The WSAIP presents a clear roadmap to enable partners to work towards achieving specific targets in the short term and lays out a framework of tools and approaches to support medium and long-term planning for water security.
Water security is achievable but requires the buy-in of all key stakeholders
The challenge, as articulated by Dr. Rose Kaggwa, Director of Business and Scientific Services at NWSC, is getting water security institutionalised. Now that more stakeholders are aware of the relevance of water security, “We can move towards the medium term which is to institutionalise it and get people to get it as part of their day-to-day operations and budgets, then we can move towards the long term – achievement of water security.”
To this end, the WSAIP recommends the creation of a permanent inter-governmental secretariat on water security; investment in research and data acquisition to support evidence-based planning; the establishment of a Water Security Observatory and a framework for the funding and implementation of multi-stakeholder water security investment actions and projects.
Development of the WSAIP lasted from September 2018 to May 2020, with financial support from DFID’s Cities and Infrastructure for Growth (CIG) programme and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and through coordination and technical support from GIZ’s International Water Stewardship Program (GIZ IWaSP) as well as the current Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS). Efforts to operationalise the WSAIP are ongoing.
Uganda’s economy is highly dependent on its natural resources. Therefore, it is critical that the country pursues a green growth path in its economic development.
In 2017, Uganda developed the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy 2017/18 – 2030/31 to operationalize the broad green growth principles emphasized in the global Agenda 2030, the Uganda Vision 2040, and the Uganda National Development Plan. The strategy seeks to achieve inclusive, low-emission economic growth that prioritizes the efficient and sustainable use of natural, human, and physical capital.
The Strategy prioritizes five investment areas to improve livelihoods, food and nutrition security, decent green jobs, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation:
natural capital management
green cities (urban development)
The Green Growth Report as monitoring instrument
Since the inception of the UGGDS in 2017, there has been no progress monitoring to track the implementation of Uganda’s green growth strategy and its implementation roadmap. To bridge this gap, Uganda’s National Planning Authority, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Environment, and with the support of GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship Programme, developed the country’s first-ever Green Growth Report for the year 2020, entitled: “Stimulating resource use efficiency in manufacturing and waste management for sustainable development”. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions only recently lifted, the report will be released during Uganda Water and Environment Week in March 2022.
The report reflects Uganda’s progress towards meeting its green growth strategy targets between 2017 and 2020. It will be followed by a series of subsequent monitoring reports that will track the country’s progress towards a transformed economy on a green growth path.
Economic, environmental, and social indices were used to track progress. Among the economic metrics were the value-cost ratio, gross margins, and costs from increased resource use efficiency and/or extended waste value chains. Greenhouse gas emissions and reductions (t COe/year) as well as waste accumulation are examples of environmental indicators, whereas social indicators include, among others, job creation, gender equality, and occupational health and safety.
The report highlights Uganda’s progress in implementing sustainable waste management practices, particularly green industrial practices (resource use efficiency). This is consistent with Uganda’s National Development Plan (III), which emphasizes “sustainable industrialization for inclusive growth, job creation, and wealth creation”.
Furthermore, the report highlights the status of systemic human rights inclusion, as well as gender equality in manufacturing and waste management. Using national and international compliance standards, the decency and inclusiveness of waste-to-wealth jobs were assessed in terms of occupational health and safety requirements, as well as the elimination of child labor.
On November 22nd 2021, a group of stakeholders from different public, private and civil society organizations met to validate the findings of the green growth report. The key take-aways of the meeting were:
In terms of monetary returns, market-driven green inventions were the most successful. Some social enterprises with a focus on community involvement have also achieved notable success.
Various approaches to environmental sustainability are being used, with similar results. This demonstrates the importance of standard reporting on water productivity and/or efficiency, energy efficiency, biomass efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste management, as well as guidelines for rating environmental indicators.
In manufacturing facilities, greater gender awareness is required. Women and young people should be encouraged to take part in green growth initiatives. Better gender inclusivity can lead to more sustainable green growth outcomes.
This green growth report is the first step in what we believe will be a game-changer in monitoring Uganda’s green growth progress and providing evidence for initiatives and ideas that will steer economic growth in a clear and unwavering direction along a green growth path. As a result of the report, policy concerns and lessons learned have been identified, documented, and reported on as ways to strengthen the activities required to achieve sustainable manufacturing under NDP III.
It takes time to make a meaningful and long-term transition to a green economy. Uganda is committed to making steady progress.
NatuReS supports the development of health and safety guidelines for solid waste handlers in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and Gulu City
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the introduction of control and prevention measures such as wearing face masks, mandatory quarantine at home or in a hotel, the composition of municipal waste has changed in Uganda. Municipal waste, which is collected from households, commerce and trade, office buildings, institutions and small businesses, as well as yard and garden waste and street sweepings, now includes infectious waste. This puts particularly solid waste handlers at an increased risk of infection, which has made the continuous provision of solid waste management services difficult.
However, waste that is not being collected ends up polluting water and soil, representing a risk to the health of communities, or blocking drainage channels, which increases the risk of flooding in cities. A continuous, safely carried out, waste management service is therefore essential for cities, also and particularly in pandemic times.
Protecting natural resources by guaranteeing for continued waste mangement
It is against this background, that local governments in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) and Gulu City in Northern Uganda, with the support of GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship Programme, developed solid waste safety and handling guidelines.
The guidelines aim at supporting solid waste regulators, companies and individuals in GMKA and Gulu City in improving the health and safety of solid waste handlers. Specifically, they will contribute to (i) improved working conditions for solid waste handlers; (ii) safeguarded jobs due to the reduced risk of Covid-19 infections at work; (iii) increased awareness about Covid-19 and adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), and (iv) behavior change towards improved management of solid waste.
Health and safety guidelines for waste handlers
The guidelines include a code of conduct for waste handlers, Covid-19 SOPs for solid waste handlers, exaplaining the role of waste handlers’ associations, and a section on Covid-19 prevention and control.
The fight against the pandemic requires concerted efforts, and NatuReS is committed to continuing its support to partners during this challenging period. Protecting natural resources requires a continued safe and reliable waste management. The guidelines are an important aspect of guaranteeing such a continued service, while protecting waste handlers and their income.