UWASNET: Accountability begins with Civil Society

October 15, 2019


For the 2019 Sector Ministers’ Meeting, Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) has taken the commitment to strengthen the accountability of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. Having undertaken the Annual WASH NGO Performance Assessment for the last seven years, we have decided to reinforce this as a formal commitment and prioritize applying Collaborative Behaviours to ourselves. This would enable the Government and other stakeholders to have an actual overview of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) accessibility gaps within the country. Thereby, enabling effective identification of the unserved, and addressing the goal of “Leaving no one Behind”.

As a commitment to the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism and reporting Collaborative Behaviours, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment carry out an annual assessment of the sector based on 42 indicators that are guided by the Sector Performance Framework. Through this assessment, the Government evaluate the status quo on WASH and Environment to identify key sector bottlenecks. This assessment also incorporates NGO Performance which is compiled by UWASNET annually.

We at UWASNET are working towards strengthening Uganda’s WASH sector NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) by establishing better coordination and collaboration among them and other stakeholders. Our network has over 200 members, however, less than half the members report back on their annual activities. This lack of information hinders CSOs in streamlining their activities and giving a consolidated input to Government on the status of WASH services in the country. We always advocate for Government accountability, but with the declining number of NGOs reporting on their activity, we declared to address this issue during the 2018 Joint Sector Review in order to “Walk the Accountability Talk”.

During the preparatory process regarding the SWA Sector Ministers’ Meeting, we decided the way forward would be to strengthen our coordination structures by undertaking a National NGO mapping exercise. This exercise is being supported by GIZ under ‘Civil Society in Uganda Support Program’.  The exercise commenced in February 2019, and we hope to accomplish it in all the ten UWASNET Regions by the end of June 2019.  We believe, by identifying all the active NGOs, we can effectively coordinate with them, build their capacity, and more so encourage them to report annually in order to support the Government better in identifying and recognizing those who are left behind. It would also help the Government and other stakeholders to identify which civil society organization is active in which part of the country, their contributions made to the WASH sector, and which sub sector they work in. The exercise also incorporates a capacity needs assessment for identifying the capacity gaps of WASH NGOs in effectively implementing their programs. This exercise would help inform any stakeholders who prioritise capacity building of NGOs.

If we are to address the challenge of Inequalities in WASH, it is critical to prioritize the SWA Collaborative Behaviour of “Mutual Accountability”. The Government should take lead in undertaking the overall national performance review and reporting, if it is to address inequalities in the country.  But it cannot do it effectively if we as NGOs do not report to give a good overview of the WASH. Therefore, as CSOs we need to abide by the SWA mutual accountability Collaborative Behaviour to enable the attainment of Universal Coverage of WASH.

This blog was written by Yunia Yiga Musaazi , Executive Director, UWASNET and was first published on the SWA website.