In March 2012 IAWD signed a contract with European Union represented by the European Commission with its commitment to the project “Strengthening Regional Umbrella Organisations for Sustainable Piped Water Services”.



The capacity development activities in the frame of the described action take place throughout Uganda.

The Umbrella Organisation (UO) model was piloted in South-Wester Uganda in 2002 and has since been rolled out. The five UOs that are beneficiary partners in this project cover the entire Ugandan territory and include at present a total number of 162 small water supply schemes.

They are located in Kabale (South-Western UO), Kyenjojo (Mid-Western UO); Mbale (Eastern UO), Lira (Northern UO) and Wakiso (Central UO). The area of intervention of the WSDF South-West is covered by two UOs (South Western UO and Mid-Western UO).




The Government of Uganda has established regional Umbrella Organisation (UOs) to secure sustainable water supply delivery in small towns and rural growth centres by providing support to local Water Supply and Sanitation Boards (WSSBs). This approach shares many aspects with solutions successfully established in the Austrian water sector. The proposed partnership project aims at strengthening the Ugandan model through further developing the capacities of the five UOs in Uganda by harnessing the experience and know-how of several Austrian water sector organisations. The partners contributing to capacity development are The International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube Catchment Area (IAWD) together with four Austrian water sector member organisations as implementing partners. Beside the expected direct benefits of the project, the fact that a new chapter of partnership with Austrian water sector organisations will be opened most appreciated by the Ugandan Partners.

The capacity of five Umbrella Organisations (UOs) will be permanently strengthened in order to ensure sustainable operation and maintenance of the water and sanitation infrastructure of their member schemes (specific objective). By that the project contributes to sustainable water supply and sanitation service delivery in small towns and rural growth centres in Uganda (overall objectives).


Umbrella Organisations

Umbrella Organisations (UOs) are associations of local Water Supply and Sanitation Boards (WSSBs) that have been created to pool resources, build capacities and address those issues that cannot be adequately handled by one member scheme alone. Services include technical advice; assistance with legal, tariff, procurement and contractual issues; building of managerial and financial capacities; procurement of non-standard spare parts; water quality monitoring; assistance with rehabilitation and extension works; and a trust fund model to finance scheme repairs and extensions. The first pilot umbrella, created in 203, has been successful in maintaining a functionality rate of over 90% among its members. Uganda therefore took the model and reproduced it throughout the country. Five UOs, who are all beneficiary partners of the proposed project, are now covering the whole of Uganda.

The UOs are a well-established component of the institutional water sector landscape in Uganda. At the same time, this wide variety of tasks raises questions regarding the compatibility of all these functions. It is therefore expected that the proposed action will contribute to the clarification of the UOs´s role and (limits of) their responsibilities. Through this process the UOs will be able to better position themselves in the light of ongoing institutional developments in the sector.



One of the key issues to be addressed by the action is a consistent approach to capacity development. Lacking capacities are the single most important constraint in water service delivery and concern both sides of the delegated management partnership; the WSSBs and the private contractor. Responsibilities regarding water resources protection and water quality management at the decentralised level will be clarified, including possible synergies with other decentralised institutions.


Unique opportunity

This project represents a unique opportunity for (i) the UOs in Uganda to develop their long term capacity for the benefit of the served communities, without facing the risks of commercial ventures and (ii) Austrian water sector organisations to engage in a water partnership to contribute to the sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Uganda.


Project Partners

The proposed partnership involves Austrian and Ugandan as well as international partners and associates The area of intervention of the planned action covers the whole of Uganda. There are nine Ugandan beneficiary partners and associates as the UOs and WSDFs are regional organisations.

The three implementing partners Vienna Water, Upper Austria Water and Salzburg AG represent three different service delivery models at provincial level which are all relevant in the Ugandan context.



The International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD) is a member organisation embracing a large number of water supply companies – both large as well as small scale suppliers – whose common thread is obviously the Danube. IAWD provides the appropriate platform “to unite supply and resource side” and to coordinate efforts for improving and safeguarding the water quality of the Danube and its tributaries. IAWD e.g. conducts studies and organises conferences but its core mandate relevant to the planned action is not project based: For almost 20 years IAWD has fostered experience and knowledge exchange between its members and acted as a mouthpiece for water suppliers in the Danube region.


Implementing partners

Upper Water Austria is a member of organisation of cooperative and municipal water suppliers in the Austrian federal state of Upper Austria. Operating much like an UO it has already past experience in Uganda through its earlier support of the South Western UO. It mainly supports activities aiming at strengthening the self-understanding of and clarifying the responsibilities of the UOs.

Vienna Water (Municipal Department 31) ensures a strong link between IAWD and the International Water Association (IWA) and is responsible for activities relating to technical and governance aspects.

The Austrian Association for Gas and Water (OVGW), a non-profit organisation based on voluntary membership and founded in 1881 to promote Austrian gas and water suppliers in all matters relating to research, technology, business and legislation, especially supports activities relating to the standardisation of technical and training issues.

Salzburg AG plans and manages the main water supply for the federal state of Salzburg. It is responsible for the waterworks of the city of Salzburg and over 50 waterworks of small towns in the federal state of Salzburg.


Beneficiary partners

are the five UOs South-Western, Eastern, Mid-Western, Central and Northern. The newly founded UOs in Northern and Central Uganda obviously have a different point of departure compared to the long established UOs e.g. in the South-West. Their role in the project implementation is the active participation in all capacity building activities including experience sharing between UOs and the support of project management at the regional level. The local WSSBs private operators and customers – who are all represented at the UO´s General Assemblies – do not have direct responsibilities within the project implementation but are benefiting through the UOs´services.


Supporting partners

The Directorate of Water Development (DWD) and the Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM), both under the Ministry of Water and Environment (MW), are key supporting partners with respect to defining responsibilities, standardising activities, and to linking and streamlining these national efforts.

The Network for Water and Sanitation Uganda (NETWA) is a non-state actor supporting partner. As a capacity development and knowledge management organisation the network has valuable experience in small towns in the Ugandan context. It will also assist in awareness raising and advocacy activities and ensure the link to NETWAS International (Kenya).



The Water and Sanitation Development Facilities (WSDFs) in the South-West, East, Centre and North, in charge of providing funding and related services for the construction of new water supply schemes, will act as associates in the project. Their input will be related to the hand-over of new schemes, initial trainings of WSSBs (together with the UOs), definition of training requirements and construction standards (water metering, O&M friendly design etc.)

The International Water Association (IWA) will act as an international association, supporting the liaison with ongoing initiatives, such as Water Operators Partnerships (WOPs), and ensuring the dissemination of project results beyond the Ugandan borders. IWA will continuously be involved in project activities and will therefore attend and actively contribute to the kick-off workshop and the final capacity development workshop. IWAs involvement enables access to an international network and pool of water know-how and the corresponding publication and dissemination lines.