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Apunyo, R, 2010 –– Influence of sanitation policies on sanitation coverage in Uganda: A case study of latrine provision in Kumi District Decentralised Local Government

Robert Apunyo (Uganda)

Robert ApunyoA study was conducted to analyse the influence of Uganda’s sanitation-related policies on latrine coverage in Uganda, taking Kumi district as a case study.

Uganda does not have a national sanitation policy but uses the Water Policy, 1999 and the National Environmental Health Policy, 2005. The choice of Kumi district was influenced by the low coverage of latrines, estimated at about 54% in 2009, well below the 75% national target set for 2000, even nine years later.  This situation has sustained high incidences of dysentery.  Kumi district has a high annual population growth rate of 4.3%, and over 57% of its population is estimated to be living below the poverty-line. This context provided a strong basis to pilot evaluation of Uganda’s sanitation related policies in Kumi district, as an example of poor, rural Uganda.

The study comprised a desktop review of two core policy documents with sections on sanitation, the Water Policy 1999, and the National Environmental Health Policy 2005. The other documents studied include Kumi district annual development plans and budgets for six years spanning from 2003 to 2009. The policy review component aimed to assess the appropriateness of the two policies in improving sanitation development, particularly in a typical, poor, rural district such as Kumi. The analysis of planning documents from Kumi district aimed to assess the extent to which the district had adopted and implemented sanitation related policy provisions. The study employed a systematic analytical framework aiming to reach evidence-based findings from documented information. The desktop review was backed up by interviews with several key informants in Uganda, aiming to triangulate the findings.

The study produced many findings but the key ones are as follows: The sector-driven approach of implementing the two sanitation-related policies has significant potential to limit effective implementation of policy initiatives due to inadequate coordinated planning and budgeting for sanitation. Low levels of political support for the promotion of latrine construction, especially by local leaders, has constrained enforcement of laws on latrine construction, and therefore reduced the effectiveness of the existing local human resources for latrine promotion.  A mismatch between policy focus and implementation was strongly indicated by lack of a clear sanitation financing strategy, which has led to gross underfunding of the department responsible for sanitation and hygiene promotion in Kumi district.  The lack of national laws and consequent over-dependence on ordinances enacted by districts affects national planning for sanitation.

The study proposes the following recommendations: Uganda needs to develop a national sanitation policy to pull together scattered policy initiatives and attract direct funding for latrine coverage improvements. Once a national policy is in place, a national law on sanitation is needed. A realistic sanitation financing strategy is needed to address the hardware and software aspects of sanitation. Sanitation needs specific funding to overcome the dominance of the water and health sectors in the current financial framework, where sanitation is considered subsidiary to water supply and health issues. Kumi district needs to enforce a code of conduct on political leaders, to curtail interference with the enforcement of laws relating to latrine construction. Integrated water resources management principles need to be integrated into latrine construction activities. Water and sanitation committees need to be strengthened and their social capital leveraged to widen the scope of water resources management beyond simply protecting water points for potable water.

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