Management Capacity Enhancement of the South Sudan Urban Water Corporation

March 17, 2019
Challenge South Sudan became independent in 2011 after a long conflict. The population of Juba, the capital city, increased dramatically after the return of refugees and is now estimated at 600,000- 800,000. Infrastructure challenges, such as water supply, create a major challenge for daily life.The coverage of water supply in the city is barely 10 per cent. A small minority of citizens with access to water with service connection pay the lower fixed water tariff, while the majority rely on unfiltered river water, unprotected wells and/or high salinity water. The South Sudan Urban Water Corporation (SSUWC), a water utility responsible for the construction and management of water supply facilities and housed within the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI), is financially and technically unsustainable due to the high non-revenue water (NRW) ratio and the low water tariff collection ratio. Since it is necessary to increase the tariff and tariff collection ratio, SSUWC must improve its performance and customer service to obtain understanding and cooperation from citizens. Towards a Solution To enhance the SSUWC’s capacity to deliver safe and clean water supply in a sustainable manner in Juba, since 2010 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and South Sudan have been implementing the Project for Management Capacity Enhancement of South Sudan Urban Water Corporation. Phase 2 (2016-2020) of the project focuses on capacity development with regard to financial management, NRW management, and facilities operation and maintenance. JICA supports SSUWC to learn from Uganda’s and Cambodia’s major water utilities. The objective of training sessions in each country are for SSUWC to:
  • learn what worked well for water utility reforms from those two countries’ experiences; and
  • gain the expertise needed to draft its reform plan based on its own situation.
Training in Cambodia, Japan, and Uganda, in 2017 was conducted as one of the project activities. The trainings included learning from major water utilities in developing countries (the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) in Uganda, and the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) in Cambodia) about their successful experiences with reforms and the challenges of infrastructure development. Both NWSC and PPWSA have achieved substantial improvements in performance and successful organizational change, despite working in harsh environments. For example, the NRW ratio of PPWSA and NWSC improved significantly, from 72 per cent in 1993 to 6 per cent in 2011 and from 60 per cent in 1998 to 28 per cent in 2018, respectively. Participants learned about Cambodia’s history (e.g. deteriorated infrastructure due to the civil war in the 1970s), which was similar to the situation in South Sudan. The Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation and key SSUWC officials visited major water utilities in Uganda and Cambodia. The Uganda training was based on the training programme of the NWSC and its water supply facilities. NWSC lectures and training covered a wide range of management topics, such as water tariffs, financial management, public awareness-raising, NRW management, geographic information system (GIS), water distribution management and sharing the reform history of NWSC. PPWSA lectured on its reform history and utility management. The Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation and SSUWC gained confidence in their reform plan. In Cambodia, the coverage of water supply in Phnom Penh increased dramatically, from 20 per cent in 1993 to 82 per cent in 2003, with a reduction of NRW and tariff revision, resulting in a net profit. The PPWSA (Cambodia) reform plan was implemented in just over 10 years, showing that reforms can be achieved fairly quickly. The lectures were persuasive because most of them were given by PPWSA executives who had experienced tough challenges since the 1990s. They concurred that it was possible for SSUWC to improve its performance and expand water supply coverage. Continuous, joint training with NWSC will be effective in strengthening SSUWC’s performance. Since the technology and management methods of the neighbouring country are similar to that of South Sudan, it is easier for participants from SSUWC to learn from NWSC’s experiences. Achievements:
  • SSUWC headquarters and Juba station have begun to draft a reform action plan, which includes an analysis of good practices and lessons learned from PPWSA and NWSC (e.g. the need for political will, strong leadership, motivated staff and support from development partners and peers).
The overall outputs of the training were:
  • a reform plan for improved utility performance and identification of priority actions that contribute to efficient and effective improvements, based on the experiences of major water utilities in developing countries and lessons learned from them;
  • practical skills and management methods shared by a neighbouring country; and linkages between organizations in different developing countries with the support of development partners (such as JICA in this case),that understand the challenges and the development process of developing countries and have established a good relationship with them.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 1.4, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.a, 6.b Countries/ territories involved: Cambodia, South Sudan, Uganda Supported by: JICA Implementing entities: National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) in Uganda and Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) in Cambodia Project status: Ongoing Project period: 2016 – 2020 (Phase 2) URL of the practice: