Africa’s leading water utility streets ahead

The National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC) of Uganda is recognized as Africa’s leading water utility. NWSC has rapidly expanded its geographical coverage to increase the number of NWSC service towns from just 24 in 2011 to 174 in 2016, increasing the service coverage across the country from just 48% in 1998 to 76% in 2016.

With significant investment in the water system, the utility has seen non-revenue water decrease from over 60% in 1998 to the current level of 28%. At the same time, the numbers of customers with water meters has increased from 65% in 1998 to 99.8% in 2016.

These statistics are in line with the utility’s aim of sustainably and equitably providing cost effective quality water and sewage services to the delight of all stakeholders while conserving the environment.

National Water and Sewage Corporation of Uganda

National Water and Sewage Corporation of Uganda

Demand management to achieve water security

To promote the sustainable and equitable use of water while conserving the environment NWSC has initiated a variety of demand management tools that encourage the wise use of water, reduce loss and promote a change in the attitude and behavior of future water users towards this precious resource.

Pricing water

NWSC has separate water tariffs for a variety of customer types including domestic, commercial and institutional, summarized in table 1. below

Table 1. NWSC’s water tariffs 2016/2017

CUSTOMER CATEGORY TARIFF EXCL. VAT FOR FY 2016/17 (Uganda Shilling) PRICE PER 20 LTR JERRICAN (Uganda Shilling)
Public Standpipe 1,593 38
Domestic 2716 64
Institution/Government 3344 79
Commercial <500m3/Month 4102 97
Commercial <500- 1500m3/Month 4102 97
Commercial >1500m3/Month 3278 77


Reducing water losses

With NWSC rapidly expanding its services across the country water loss and theft has increased through illegal connections and reconnections, meter bypasses, vandalism, meter tampering, and meter reversals. To counter this the NWSC has initiated the Water Loss Prevention Unit (WALOPU) program which is a partnership with the Uganda Police and community to halt illegal water usage and apprehend culprits involved in the various illegal water usage practices.

E-payment of water bills

NWSC has initiated a series of IT innovations to enhance the ability of customers to pay their water bills as well as provide feedback on the utility’s services. Innovations include:

  • The E-Water Payment System: NWSC has put in place a convenient, efficient and easy system for customers to pay their water bills in a variety of ways including over-the-counter at partnering banks; through mobile money services; with direct debit mandates; through mobile banking options; and with PayWay
  • NWSC Mobile App: The utility has developed a smartphone app that enables customers to check their account balance, pay bills, view transaction statements and make queries and give feedback
NWSC's mobile app

NWSC’s mobile app

Water and sanitation in schools

NWSC has established the School Water and Sanitation (SWAS) clubs program to raise awareness of water and sanitation amongst school children throughout the country. The SWAS clubs have been rolled out to more than 100 schools with each school holding a water and sanitation day with activities including poems, games, debates, essays, quizzes, skits, drama, green campaign (tree planting), WASH tech innovations and schools talks.

The take-out

Water utilities have a vast range of demand management tools at their disposal to reduce water usage and losses while ensuring customers value each drop of water.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of:

Urban Water Security (Wiley)

The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan).

Facebook: UrbanH20

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Author: Robert Brears

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