The Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in Uganda

Date: 15th May 2015

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GSF Information

Executing Agency:
Ministry of Health
Programme duration:
Programme Coordinating Mechanism:
Sub-group of the National Sanitation Working Group, chaired by the Ministry of Water and Environment

The Uganda Sanitation Fund (USF) is the largest sanitation programme in the country, directly contributing to the National Development Plan and embedded in Uganda’s decentralized system of local governance (read more). The USF enables communities to improve their access to and use of sanitation and hygiene facilities, while promoting improved sanitation as essential to preventing a range of diseases. Covering 38 districts, the USF is managed by the Ministry of Health, while District Local Governments serve as implementing partners.

2016 Highlights

The USF consolidated its progress as it prepared to shift into its transition phase. A four-year expansion plan was developed, for which WSSCC has allocated $2 million. The plan focuses on increasing geographical coverage, ensuring sustained and inclusive progress, and enhancing the enabling and institutional environment for sanitation. It will also address recommendations from an independent mid-term evaluation of the USF, which include addressing slippage, supply-side activities and equality and non-discrimination, and enhancing partner capacities, learning and documentation.

Thanks to the demonstrated success of the USF, the Government of Uganda committed to match the GSF’s new investment, in a step towards increased government funding. While GSF funds will focus on strengthening the enabling environment and sustaining results in existing districts, government funds will facilitate scaling up to eight additional districts. These new districts will include pastoral communities with some of the lowest levels of sanitation coverage in the country as well as hard-to-reach lakeside populations and communities prone to cholera.

During the year, the programme intensified its efforts to increase the visibility of sanitation programming at scale as an effective preventive healthcare strategy. To this end, the Minister of Health and the WSSCC’s Executive Director participated in a field mission to witness the health benefits experienced by ODF communities supported by the USF. Other senior staff from the Ministry of Health have also continued to participate in the programme activities.

At the end of 2016, the programme reported more than 3.4 million people living in ODF environments, a 64 percent increase from December 2015.


Ensuring sustainable behaviour change and measuring slippage rates have been key challenges. To address these issues, the USF will increase capacity development for Institutional Triggering and Follow-up MANDONA, while increasing support to Natural Leaders and Community Consultants, to maintain and strengthen community-based structures. In addition, there has been delayed integration of the USF with other health-related activities in supported districts, such as nutrition and early childhood development. The USF is therfore reviewing its plans to ensure that its activities are fully harmonized with overall district health activities.

Learning and innovation

Learning exchanges with other GSF-supported programmes and among internal stakeholders have become an integral part of the USF’s approach to enhancing implementation, capacity building and community engagement. In 2016, the USF enhanced its knowledge of Follow-up MANDONA during the GSF Learning Event in Madagascar. The programme then went on to help colleagues from Ethiopia and Kenya build skills in Follow-up MANDONA and Institutional Triggering. Widespread adoption of these approaches, coupled with enhanced capacity building for monitoring and evaluation, helped the USF significantly boost results in 2016. The programme also organized visits by leaders and champions from the Lango region to the West Nile region, which included learning on ways to improve sustainability and mobilize Natural Leaders.

In addition, the USF continued its innovative partnership with the international NGO Water for People to develop viable business models for marketing sanitation products and services. A key element of the partnership is the focus on reaching areas vulnerable to periodic flooding. A pilot project in Soroti District has led to households purchasing and installing the SaTo Pan, a plastic, pour-flush pan with an airtight seal, keeping latrines odor-free and preventing flies from getting out of the pit. The lessons generated from Soroti will be rolled out to the other USF-supported districts.

The USF has also observed reductions in sanitation-related diseases in supported districts. To gather concrete data and evidence, in 2016 the programme began the process of undertaking a correlational study to determine trends over the last five years.

Looking ahead

While implementing its expansion plan, the USF will focus on ensuring realization of the Government’s counterpart funding commitment. The programme will also support the development of a national investment plan for sanitation and hygiene in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. This will in turn be used as an advocacy tool to explore funding opportunities from sources outside the GSF and the Government. The programme will also focus on scaling up behavior change approaches, sustaining services and progress, improving the quality of facilities, enhancing inclusiveness, and supporting districts to develop roadmaps and strategies for improved sanitation.

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