GWOPA boss commends NWSC for effective initiatives in urban poor communities - Daily Post Uganda

GWOPA boss commends NWSC for effective initiatives in urban poor communities

KAMPALA: Ms, Asa Jonsson – the Head of the Global Water Operator’s Partnership Alliance (GWOPA), while recently being hosted by the Kampala water Urban Pro Poor branch, expressed her appreciation for the National Water and Sewerage Corporation’s (NWSC) valuable efforts in Urban Poor communities. Accompanied by the Principle Engineer-External Services, Eng. Allan Kaford, Ms. Jonsson’s visit was aimed at learning more about the operational structure of the Urban Poor initiative.

GWOPA, an initiative of the UN HABITAT is an international network established to assist water operators through Water Operator’s Partnerships (WOPs), facilitate peer support exchanges between two or more water operators on a not-for-profit basis, with the objective of strengthening their capacity, enhancing their performance and enabling them to provide a better service to more people.

The Branch Manager-Urban Pro Poor, Ms. Evelyn Mukajusi, highlighted National Water and Sewerage Corporation’s (NWSC) significant strides in addressing sanitation issues and waterborne diseases within informal settlements. These areas, previously afflicted by water scarcity and limited access to water have witnessed remarkable improvements. For instance, they can go several years without disease outbreaks like cholera and dysentery, which were once prevalent and particularly harmful to vulnerable groups such as children and women.

Additionally, Ms. Evelyn outlined the water consumption patterns in urban poor areas, emphasizing the standardized tariff of Ugx25 per 20-liter jerrycan at prepaid meters. She also hinted on the essential roles fulfilled by operators and vendors in enabling water accessibility across various points within these communities.

John Bosco Otema, the Manager for Pro Poor Services and Community Collaborations, expounded more on this background, noting that the service level in urban poor communities fluctuates due to their transient nature, where residents frequently relocate. He highlighted NWSC’s meticulous tracking of these populations through mapping, underscoring its significance in financial planning. He also highlighted the significant role of the Urban Pro Poor branch in various initiatives, such as the KW WATSAN project aimed at installing 2600 prepaid meters in Kampala’s informal settlements. Mr. Otema further mentioned the branch’s involvement in benchmarking exercises with counterparts from countries like Zambia Kenya, Ethiopia and others.

Urban Pro Poor operations though vital, are not immune to challenges, such as some local leaders being politically affiliated and prioritizing their interests over the welfare of their constituents, as well as the issue of hesitancy among landowners to lease their land due to the perception that it may be expropriated. Other challenges include vandalism of corporation infrastructure, setbacks in water theft due to the perception of entitlement to free water, and difficulties in accessing suitable locations for water lines. Continuous community sensitizations are conducted by the branch to address these issues effectively.

Notably, the most captivating aspect of the visit was the demonstration of the prepaid meters to Ms. Asa, during which she witnessed the striking contrast between the Susteq prepaid meters and the older model. Unlike the older pre-paid meters that rely on batteries requiring replacement every six months, the Susteq meters are solar-powered and designed to function for up to eight years. These innovative meters dispense 20 liters of water upon insertion of a token. Moreover, the Susteq meters are integrated with mobile money services, eliminating the need for a vendor intermediary. However, in cases of system failure, the vendor can still provide assistance.

Ms. Asa Jonsson, commended NWSC for its initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life for residents in informal settlements. She noted that NWSC’s vision and growth illustrate the Corporation’s responsiveness to community needs. Ms. Jonsson emphasized the significance of the Susteq prepaid meter, describing it as an impressive and transformative innovation for its convenience to the urban poor. She added that this initiative will also contribute to technological advancements in the water sector.

The visit by the Head of the Global Water Operator’s Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) to the Urban Pro Poor branch was a productive one, characterized by fruitful discussions and valuable insights shared.

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