Uganda: Improved Community Livelihoods and Sustainable Water Management in the River Rwizi Catchment

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The Coca Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF), Century Bottling Company, Coca-Cola East and West African Business Unit, Ministry of Water and Environment


The River Rwizi is the main water source for residents and industries of Mbarara, the largest town in western Uganda. The region, mainly characterised by small and large-scale farming, is now home to over two million people, a number increasing at over 3% per year. Mbarara and its surroundings have rapidly industrialised over the last decade, attracting some of the country’s largest beverage production facilities, dairy farms and tea growing estates. This economic and population growth, paired with poor land-use practices and management and an increasingly variable climate all contribute to the unsustainable use of water resources. These risks are further intensified by limited data, monitoring and awareness of the growing challenges.

Approach and Objectives

The rationing of water occurs in the town of Mbarara, because the flow of the River Rwizi is often too low to abstract at several points during the dry season. One of the largest stakeholders in the catchment is The Coca-Cola System, which is interested in the conservation of the area and is looking to collaborate with all stakeholders to restore and preserve the catchment area.

In 2006, the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) introduced stakeholder-driven catchment-based integrated water resources management. The new policy emphasises the importance of stakeholder involvement – both for the identification of issues as well as for the implementation of solutions. The River Rwizi partnership is implemented under the leadership of the MWE and follows this policy.



Thus far, the partnership has supported the Rwizi Catchment Management Organisation (CMO) in promoting cooperation amongst water users, authorities and local communities. A comprehensive water risk and sustainability assessment has been conducted and provides crucial input for the development of the catchment management plan. A study on the diversification of water sources has also been completed, assessing options to increase water yield for the national water utility, the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). In order to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable resource management, wetland restoration activities in four locations in the catchment area have been completed. The restoration is accompanied by sensitisation and training events for communities and agricultural water users.

Some of the partnership’s achievements to date include:

  • Developing community-based wetland action plans for the restoration of wetlands. To date, approximately 500ha of wetlands have been sustainably restored.
  • Introducing Community Environment Conservation Funds (CECFs). These community funds, conceptualised and implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have been set up in four locations and are currently providing services to 1800 beneficiaries. The CECFs has been extended to more sites and beneficiaries by the end of 2015.Training of local communities and farmers on the sustainable use of wetlands. By March 2016, over 280 farmers and 40 local leaders have been trained. In addition, over 220 received capacity-building training for sustainable agricultural practices.

The project has attracted interest from more corporate partners and has been described as a role model for public-private cooperation in Uganda and has featured prominently in the annual sector review of the MWE for 2014.


Challenges and Outlook

The second phase of the project includes the ongoing extension of water supply systems for upstream communities of the River Rwizi, benefiting about 3,000 people. In addition, the development of a catchment management plan and the implementation of community wetland action plans will be further supported.

The successful interventions, such as the restoration of wetlands and the implementation of CECFs, will be up-scaled across the catchment area. The project will further restore about 320ha of  wetlands in the River Rwizi Catchment, bringing the total close to 500ha of restored wetlands.

The successful training of community leaders and farmers will be extended to reach almost 500 decision-makers and farmers, and the CECF schemes will be up-scaled in selected areas across the wetlands, benefiting and incentivising additional families and individuals.


Country Set-up

In Uganda, IWaSP is anchored in the bilateral Reform of the Urban Waterand Sanitation Sector (RUWASS) Programme, a joint programme of the German and Ugandan governments, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. RUWASS aims to strengthen institutional, regulatory and managerial capacities for more equitable access to urban water and sanitation.

IWaSP partners in this country include the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC).                                      

IWaSP is an international water security programme which combines global best practices in water stewardship with local know-how. Currently active in seven countries, the six-year programme (2013-2018) facilitates partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society to address shared water risks, while improving stakeholders’ use and management of water and building their capacity to develop their own solutions. GIZ manages IWaSP on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID).


Contact Information

Johannes Rumohr
IWaSP Country Coordinator in Uganda