Citizen Action for Accountable WATSAN Services in the Slums of Kampala

How citizens are taking the lead in monitoring service coverage and advocating for better access to water

Case Sheet Uganda Citizen ACtion (PDF/FR)

Context

Kawempe is one of the poorest administrative divisions of Kampala. Slum dwellers in these neighbourhoods have difficulty accessing clean water at affordable prices and regularly come across water and sanitation facilities that have not been built to standards and remain out of order. For example, in 2008, community-based Public Expenditure Monitors found that 12 out of the 14 latrines constructed in Kawempe under the Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP) were unusable. Citizens Action is a community-led advocacy initiative supported by CIDI and Water Aid Uganda. Through the initiative, citizens from Kawempe advocate for better coverage and monitor promises and expenditure.

 

Action and Outcomes

With Citizen Action, the community identifies who does and who does not have access to adequate WATSAN services, to develop benchmarks for service provision and negotiate with providers. They also monitor implementation of projects and perform audits on the works to help identify issues and potential breaches of integrity. They present their findings at meetings and forums with the service providers. These meetings between service providers and users not only provide consumer feedback on service access but are also very helpful in finding mutual agreements or solutions to issues.

The community has set up advocacy groups who come together to discuss concerns and work with the media. CIDI and WaterAid Uganda have supported Citizen Action by providing training and support on communication initiatives and helping to amplify messages to the media and the wider community.

 

Lessons Learned

  • Feedback from users about the availability, functionality, quality and costs is crucial to advocate for better services. Establishing information and community data such as digital maps, which can be used to hold governments and service providers accountable as well as support evidence based decision-making regarding resource allocation are some means to do so.
  • The urban poor can be more visible in local government planning and media reports and thus exert pressure to make their local politicians and service providers account for their decisions.
  • Establishing a direct interface between WATSAN service providers, policy makers and users helps to find binding solutions.
  • The media is a crucial channel in the fight against corruption because it helps to put cases on the public agenda and can expose corrupt people.