A Water Project Revives a Ugandan Community


Janet Nangobi Suda at her chicken farm in Busembatia, Uganda. © IFC

Raising chickens for a living is hard work and can be a dirty business. But Janet Nangobi Suda’s small chicken farm brings her joy—and income.

As with any successful farming businesses, Suda’s farm depends heavily on clean water. But in her small town of Busembatia, in eastern Uganda, the swamps and boreholes she relied on for water often killed her poultry and shrank her profits.

“It wasn’t easy before we got the piped water,” she recalls. “Chicken is a very delicate business. With dirty water, you lose all of them.”
 

In Busembatia, Uganda, a successful public-private partnership helped local banks finance a small-scale water project that provided thousands of people with a sustainable water supply system for the first time.


Contaminated water from the town’s few water sources affected the health and economic well-being of others in Busembatia, too. Children, when ill, had to skip school—which meant that their mothers, who walked miles to fetch water for drinking, cooking, and washing, missed work to care for them. When water quality was acceptable, delivery was not: the locally run station that covered only 200 people provided very poor service.

The situation started to improve in 2010, when a small-scale water public-private partnership (PPP) structured by IFC helped bring clean piped water into the community. Today, the town’s residents no longer depend on remote and unreliable water sources. About 700 distribution stations in Busembatia now provide an uninterrupted water supply that serves thousands of people in the area.

 

Small Scale, Big Results

IFC’s initial assessment in Uganda, which began in 2007, revealed the scale of the challenge to deliver safe, reliable water. It included decentralized rural water supply and distribution systems with weak contracts that consistently underperformed, and lack of capacity to drill for new water and scale up operations.

These problems required creative solutions.  In the past, private operators in Uganda raised financing by using overdraft facilities provided by the banks or secured loans using other existing business. IFC identified alternative models with greater potential for success, including leveraging our relationship with local banks. This presented financial institutions for the first time with a viable business model for small-town water operators. It was the first, critical step forward.

With support from the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and DevCo, a multi-donor facility affiliated with the Private Infrastructure Development Group, we ultimately brought the banks and the small-scale water providers together. Working in partnership, we helped them develop a solid business model for financing small-town water operations. Trandint Limited, a local private operator that won a five-year contract to manage water supply in Busembatia, received the first $100,000 loan from the local DFCU Bank.

In Busembatia, improved access to clean water has created new opportunities for women to work, for children to attend school, and for businesses to depend on a reliable utility. For Suda, the chicken farmer, it translated into even greater long-term results. “I can see bright future, because I feel more is coming,” she says.

To know more about IFC's work in PPPs, visit: www.ifc.org/ppp

Stay connected: #6DecadesOfExperience

Published in September 2016

 

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