The urban water and sanitation sub-sector has undergone series of reforms since year 2001 that were aimed at ensuring services are provided with increased performance and cost effectiveness. The directorate established a regulation unit in 2009 which transformed recently into the Water Utility and Regulation Department (WURD) under the Directorate of Water Development (DWD).

The department is mandated to regulate water authorities managing piped water systems by contract, as enshrined in Cap 152 of the Water Act. The respective water authorities are NWSC, Regional Umbrella Organizations (as Regional Utilities and Local Governments being urban centres like town councils, sub-counties and rural growth centres (RGCs).

Over the last two years the department realised the need to strengthen regional performance monitoring by placing regulation staff at the existing Water and Sanitation Development Facilities Northern, Central, Eastern, and South- West regions. The transfer of personnel is ongoing.


To be the best government regulator of water and sanitation services for the benefit of consumers, utilities and the environment.


To ensure that effective regulation of water supply service provision enables sustainable, reliable, affordable and non-discriminative service delivery to all Ugandans.

The need for Regulation

The Uganda National Development Plan II (NDP II) highlights strategic objective aimed at enhancing performance of the water supply and sanitation sub-sector. To improve efficiency and effectiveness in water and sanitation service delivery (objective 4) through improve the policy, legal and regulatory framework (NDP II, 2010-2015).

It should also be noted the Goal 6 of the SDGs is aimed at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.Goal 6 goes beyond drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to also address the quality and sustainability of water resources, which are critical to the survival of people and the planet.  The 2030 Agenda recognizes the centrality of water resources to sustainable development and the vital role that improved drinking water, sanitation and hygiene play in progress in other areas, including health, education and poverty reduction.

The Government’s strategy to further expand and improve water supply and sewerage coverage highlights the need for an effective regulatory framework to ensure equity, affordability and sustainability of water and sewerage services in the longer term. Regulation in the water sector is needed to balance the commercial objective of efficient and sustainable service provision with the social objective of accessible and affordable water supply and sewerage services, with special regard to the poor.

Functions of the Water Utility Regulation Department:

  • Standards and Guidelines:define key performance indicators and specify performance targets to be fulfilled by Water Supply and Sewerage Authorities (WSSAs) together with incentives or penalties applied to achieving such performance targets. Furthermore, develop guidelines to be followed by service providers, such as for tariff setting, water quality, corporate governance and customer handling,
  • Tariffs:receive and review Business Plans and tariff proposals from WSSAs and their respective service providers. Recommend for approval tariffs, balancing objectives of cost-recovery, efficiency, affordability and sustainability
  • Performance Monitoring: enter into performance contract with WSSAs that stipulate annual performance targets. To monitor the performance bycollecting and reviewing technical and commercial service performance of WSSAs, and benchmark and publish information on quality of water and sewerage services.
  • Competition: identify economically viable service areas and recommend variations to these areas on an on-going basis; resolve any dispute between different service providers, including with respect to bulk tariff issues and network access with a view to providing a level playing field for all types of providers.
  • Customer protection: receive and resolve customer complaints, resolve disputes between customers and service providers, develop customer management guidelines and guidelines for customers in terms of their rights and responsibilities.Furthermore, disseminate information to customers and consumers regarding tariff increases and other relevant information about water and sewerage services.

 Current regulatory framework:

The Regulatory and Governance Framework for the sector is governed by a number of laws and statutory instruments that are applicable to the regulation of the WSS sector in Uganda. These include; National Water Policy of 1999, Water Act (Cap 152), Local Government Act of 1998 (Cap 243), Companies Act, 2012 and Statutory Instruments appointing the Water Authorities among others.

Water supply in small towns and RGCs in Uganda is set within a decentralized political structure where the Town Council or Sub-County is the Water Authority mandated to appoint Water Supply and Sewerage Boards (WSSB) responsible for gazetted Water Supply area.

Umbrellas of Water and Sanitation, which are Public Utilities in the regions of Central, Eastern, Northern, South-West, Mid- Western and Karamoja, are also appointed as Water Authorities to manage gazetted piped water systems.     

NWSC, another Public Utility, focuses on management of Piped water systems in mainly large Urban Towns and has recently been granted authority to manage selected RGCs. As a Water Authority, NWSC is mandated to operate and manage water systems in towns gazetted as Water and Supply Areas.

A Performance Contract bonds the relationship between the Ministry and the Water Authority.  This contract detailed terms of reference and service targets which the Water Authority must abide. As a requirement in the Performance Contract, a Management Contract defining the operation and management roles is signed between the Water Authority and the Private Operator. In other scenarios, a Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the Water Authority and an individual spelling out expected duties and responsibilities.

Regulatory Tools:

  1. Performance Contract For Water Authorities:
  2. Performance Contract For NWSC (PC V):
  3. Business Planning Guidelines:
  4. Tariff Policy:
  5. UPMIS (Utility Performance Monitoring and Information System (UPMIS):
  6. Pro-poor Regulation Guidelines: