Coordinating Efforts - Using learning alliances to improve sanitation and hygiene

Rashida Kulanyi / SNV

Sanitation and hygiene is a major issue in Uganda. Yet the problem may not be that the government is paying too little attention to water, but too much.

One might reasonably assume that the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) is solely responsible for improving sanitation and hygiene in the country, but it is not. It is only responsible for sanitation in public places and at new water points, while the Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for improving sanitation and hygiene in homes and the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) is responsible for sanitation issues in schools. That means there are actually three different government ministries dealing with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Uganda.

But no matter if one is discussing WASH in the home, WASH in school or WASH in the community, water is water. Recognising this, the three ministries agreed to better coordinate their programs. The ministries’ efforts might have been sufficient, were it not for the fact that the work on the ground is actually carried out by district water departments, health departments and education departments, each representing their respective ministry. While the national ministries recognised the need for coordination, their district counterparts who were responsible for carrying out projects continued to work in isolation—even after forming district water and sanitation coordination committees. Meanwhile, civil society and nongovernmental organisations active in water and sanitation were equally unaccustomed to coordinating activities or sharing information. Without better cooperation, no one could reach the most vulnerable groups, primarily women and children who are put at risk of rape or missing school by having to travel long distances for clean water.

An outside perspective was needed to encourage local governments, civil society and the private sector to collectively craft and implement WASH policies. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation—in partnership with International Resource Centre (IRC) Netherlands (and later with the Centre for Governance and Development, or CEGED)—stepped in to fill that role, introducing an approach called Learning for Policy and Practice in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, or LeaPPS.

Year of publication: 
SNV Case story collection
Themes and sectors: 
Health sector
Themes and sectors: 
Themes and sectors: 
Water supply

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