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Exploring the quality of government and WASH outcomes in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

A recent international networking event organized by SEI and Ardhi University explored how to accelerate progress on the access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in three African countries.

Ylva Rylander, Nelson Ekane / Published on 20 October 2022
International workshop

International workshop participants, including SEI Research Fellow Dr Nelson Ekane (left). Photo: Dr Yohannes Kachenje / Ardhi University.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Governance of water, sanitation and hygiene services in most countries in Africa is characterized by the state acting through non-state actors in supposedly flexible and inclusive state–citizen interactions with non-state actors (private and civil society) filling gaps in resources and service delivery.

However, the outcomes in terms of inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective service delivery is mixed in many cases. In part, this reflects that some public and private agencies delivering basic services face problems of legitimacy due to low levels of accountability and trust.

International networking event

Researchers and practitioners from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Sweden explored the links between quality of government and water, sanitation and hygiene outcomes at a recent international networking event organized by SEI and the Institute for Human Settlement Studies (IHSS) at Ardhi University.

The theme of the workshop in Tanzania was “Quality of Government and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Outcomes”. The purpose of this meeting was to:

  • officially present established country teams in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, including the roles of the team members
  • discuss and validate a research proposal, including case study designs for implementation in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda
  • explore links with other national and international partners and networks.

What drives citizen perceptions of WASH services?

Dr Ekane outlined the research agenda of the network and the specific research questions that the network explores. The main aim of the research is to understand how the type and quality of services provided to citizens in rural, peri-urban and urban settings influence citizen perceptions of public and private service providers and the willingness of citizens to pay for services and participate actively in community development.

The project also examines how well citizen perceptions align with expectations from the government and other non-state actors involved in service delivery and aims to reduce barriers that women and other vulnerable groups face in effectively demanding improved WASH services and otherwise participating in the sector. The research will be carried out in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and the research questions include:

  • How do different macro- and microgovernance contexts influence citizens’ perception of the type and quality of services they receive in rural, urban and peri-urban settings?
  • To what extent does the type and quality of services citizens receive from the government and other actors influence their willingness to pay (WTP) for services and participate in development?
  • What are the perceived expectations of citizens from government and other actors providing basic services and how do they match or mismatch with the services provided?
  • How can citizen participation support the development of human-centred smart WASH strategies that enhance user satisfaction through improved supply, transparency and accountability?

During the workshop, we explored the potential for future collaborative research, looking beyond 2022. In terms of progress, a key success is that the three country teams are now established and hosted by the University of Rwanda, Kyambogo University in Uganda and Ardhi University in Tanzania.

Dr. Nelson Ekane, SEI Research Fellow workshop leader

Nelson Ekane in Tanzania. Photo: Ardhi University.

SEI Research Fellow Dr Nelson Ekane leads international workshop in Tanzania. Photo: Dr Yohannes Kachenje / Ardhi University.

Dr Tatu Limbumba, Director of the Institute of Human Settlement Studies (IHSS) at Ardhi University, hoped that the participants would have fruitful discussions and highlighted the role of IHSS, a research arm of Ardhi University responsible for research, training and public services.

Presentations during this two-day workshop event were given by Dr Yohannes Kachenje, Ardhi University, Elisabeth Constance Nahimana, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority and Joseph Hahirwabasenga, University of Rwanda, Martin N Mawejje, Water for People-Uganda Kyambogo University, Uganda, and SEI Research Fellow and Development and Aid Policy team member Dr Nelson Ekane.

Established teams in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

Dr Ekane reported that network country teams have been established in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. These teams are hosted by the University of Rwanda, Ardhi University in Tanzania and Kyambogo University in Uganda.

Dr Ekane noted the network’s participation at the Africa Water and Sanitation Week 2021, where it held a session on “Quality of Government and Access to Clean Water and Sanitation: A New International Network and Research Agenda”. Several key recommendations from the session are represented in the resolutions from the conference, referred to as the Windhoek Multi-Stakeholders’ Resolutions for Accelerating Water Security and Access to Safely Managed Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa.

SEI participants

Nelson Ekane
Nelson Ekane

Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Romanus Opiyo
Romanus Opiyo

Programme Leader

SEI Africa

Ylva Rylander
Ylva Rylander

Communications and Impact Officer


SEI Headquarters

Swedish Research Council

This international workshop was made possible thanks to the international network grant for the SDGs: 2020-03017, provided by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, Formas.

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