Partners impressed by progress on EU-funded water systems in West Nile

January 16, 2018


IOM Uganda last week hosted partners from the ministry of Water and Environment, Office of the Prime Minister, UNHCR, District Local Governments and agencies to present its designs for upcoming piped water system in Palorinya settlement in Moyo district. The stakeholders also inspected ongoing works for a water system for Zone 4 of Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district.

The water systems are part IOM Uganda’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in the two districts, funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO) to the tune of 2 million Euros.
The project supports South Sudanese refugees and their host communities in the two districts.

The team from the Ministry of Water was led by Engineer Robert Kirya Mutiibwa, co-chair of the National WASH coordination platform.
The officials declared themselves impressed with the progress on IOM’s designs for Moyo, and with the ongoing works in Yumbe.

IOM’s national WASH specialist, Mr Peter Nzabanita, said the visit was meant to ensure that the central government technical specialists guide the technical aspects of the projects.

Nzabanita said the water system in Bidibidi will extend three kilometres into the host community, and 13 kilometres for the refugees.  But the system design can allow extension up to 25 kilometres.  Run by both generator and solar power, the water system will initially have 13 public stand posts, each with three taps.

Speaking in Moyo, Engineer Mutiibwa, a principal water officer in the Ministry of Water and Environment, hailed IOM for its consultative approach, and for following the Government standards.
He said it was expected that as the donor support decreases, Government support would increase. And if the government support reached 100 per cent, the facilities built for the humanitarian response should be compatible with regular Government systems.

“I was happy that [IOM] brought us together to make input into this project at early stage, which means that the person who is doing this project has been given information to make sure that whatever he is doing is in line with our standards,” Mutiibwa said.

He stressed that designs for water supply systems done today must take into account the population growth projections. This means that as the populations in the various areas grow, the existing systems can be expanded. However, partners observed that there is need to establish the population projections for the refugee community as well.


Mutiibwa, however, expressed concern that humanitarian agencies have not paid enough attention to the environment. He urged agencies not to wait for a scenario where they have to shift refugees to another location because the environment can no longer accommodate them. Rather they should work to avoid such a scenario.

“The effects we are having in these settlements, especially with respect to the environment, are getting more and more adverse. We should see projects formulated that are targeting entirely and specifically the environment,” said Mutiibwa, flanked by Engineer Isaac Natukunda from the ministry’s Technical Support Unit One based in Arua. “The natural resources that we are all sharing, after some time, once they are constrained, the system is going to break down.”

For his part, the Yumbe district chairperson, Mr Yasiin Taban, thanked IOM for organizing the high-level technical visit; he called for more such cooperation between humanitarian agencies and the district local government.

He said some agencies do things without involving the district political leadership, yet the same leaders are expected to mobilize the population to maintain the systems once the agencies leave.  He also asked the ministry to train local government leaders on minimum water system standards, so they can better monitor the works.

“We need to understand the plan before you start implementing it; you should not just stop at the technical level,” Mr Taban said.

He added that there would eventually be need to prepare the communities to start paying small amounts for water provided courtesy of donor funding: “They need to start giving coins; they need to know that these things are not free; there are costs involved.”

On the sustainability, Nzabanita explained that IOM has supported the formation of a water supply and sanitation board and water user committees, which will be responsible for managing the system.  But for the refugees, discussions are ongoing with UNHCR on a phased approach for operation and maintenance contributions, as they may not yet be able to pay.

For more information, please contact Richard M Kavuma, IOM Uganda; [email protected]; +256 312 263 210