UN-HABITAT and Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) last month launched the second phase of the fast track capacity building for change agents under the Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative (LVWATSAN).
The actual capacity building programme will be carried out in the towns of Bunda in Mara Region of Tanzania and Bondo in Nyanza Province of Kenya.
The training programmes aim to reduce non-revenue water losses, like illegal connections, and improve response to leaks and bursts and ensure that Bondo and Bunda residents have better access to water and sanitation facilities, which in long run will boost the living conditions of residents in terms of health and hygiene.
One of the key objectives of the LVWATSAN initiative is to ensure that the capital investments being provided under this programme are financially and operationally sustainabe. This is important because it has been found that the utility companies in the programme towns are unable to generate adequate revenues to meet operational and maintenance costs, because of inefficient billing and revenue collection systems, low revenue base and high levels of unaccounted for water, among others.
The Siaya-Bondo Water and Sanitation Company Limited (SIBO) serves Bondo town, while the Bunda Urban Water Supply Authority (BUWSA) serves Bunda town. The two water authorities are newly established and have operated for less than 2 years. As new utilities they are grappling with a number of serious problems that have resulted in poor reliability of water supply, poor service delivery, thus resulting in poor performance.
Consequently, there is little customer satisfaction and the utilities have not been able to break even. Although some of the issues relate to the need for infrastructural development others relate to poor management of the utilities.
The financial sustainability of the investments will not be achieved without a significant improvement on levels of operating efficiencies, as measured by the level of unaccounted for water, which exceeds 60% in most cases.
For this reason, the LVWATSAN initiative has given capacity building a top priority and the National Water and Sewerage Corporation of Uganda (NWSC), one of the leading water utility corporations in the region with an excellent track record in achieving performance improvement, has been engaged by UN-HABITAT to implement the fast track training and capacity building programme for change agents from water utilities of the LVWATSAN programme towns.
The first phase of the fast track capacity building programme started in May 2007 under a cooperation agreement signed between UN-HABITAT and NWSC. It has been implemented in four towns of Bukoba served by the Bukoba Water and Sewerage Authority (BUWASA), Muleba served by the Muleba Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (MLUWASA) both in Tanzania; Homa Bay served by South Nyanza Water Services Ltd. (SNWSL), and Kisii served by the Gusii Water and Sanitation Company (GWASCO), in Kenya.
Over a period of 15 months, a series of capacity building programmes were held including a bench marking visit to NWSC, tailor made training sessions, on the job training, design and implementation of performance improvement programmes, design and implementation of a computer-based billing system, block mapping of selected zones and development of operational manuals, amongst others.
Since then, a number of significant improvements have been achieved in the four towns and these include increased customer bases, improved revenue collection and reduction in non-revenue water, in addition to the setting up of a new billing system. For example, in BUWASA, the Non-Revenue Water strategies (NRW) helped to reduce water loss from 57.4 % to 48.4 %. Similarly, in MLUWASA, the NRW reduced water loss from 41% to 38% in the first quarter. For GWASCO, Kisii, the NRW reduced water loss from 51.3 % to 33.2 % in the third quarter, and in SNWSL, Homa Bay, the NRW reduction rate was from 55.6 % to 43.4 % by the third quarter.
The Non-Revenue Water strategies (NRWS) include: frameworks for conducting water audits, illegal water use reduction and leakage reduction.
Staff has been trained to carry out the block mapping exercise, which involves proper identification of customers and areas in which they provide services, and block maps are now available for selected zones of each of the towns. In particular, the staff attitude has changed and several strategies have been developed to ensure that continuous improvements are achieved. It is expected that the improvements made in the four areas will be replicated in Bunda and Bondo.