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Assessment of Groundwater Investigations and Borehole Drilling Capacity in Uganda

The report describes the legislative and institutional framework of the sector. The Directorate of Water Resources Management regulates the water drilling in Uganda. The Directorate licenses the drilling contractors and issues permits for drilling and water abstraction, and collects data for the national groundwater database. Every year, between 1,000 and 1,500 boreholes are drilled in Uganda. Currently applied siting as well as drilling contract formats are mostly no-water-no-pay contracts rather than Bills of Quantities contracts, which ultimately leads to lesser quality boreholes. Borehole drilling contracts by District Local Governments, constituting the largest fraction are procured after prequalification, whereas other actors also apply selected bidding or open bidding. The Sector Investment Plan (SIP) has studied various targeted service levels (access to safe water) based on selected combinations of water supply options. Combining the SIP information, current borehole costs and combined GoU / NGO funding capacity, it follows that there will be an increasing funding gap for borehole drilling.

The questionnaires, interviews and workshop revealed the following:

arrow The current implementation environment for borehole drilling in Uganda is not conducive for a cost efficient and cost effective implementation of borehole drilling projects nor for a sustainable development of the sector.

arrow The prices for boreholes depend on the costs for boreholes made by the drillers. Lower prices can only be attained if drillers can drill more boreholes per rig and/or per year.

arrow Quality of works can only be ensured by a regulated environment where qualified and professional consultants, drillers and implementing agency staff work hand in hand aiming at high quality end products.

arrow The major problems in the sector are the decentralized and fragmented implementation of water projects with very narrow implementation windows, the unfavourable tax environment and the lack of regulation.

arrow Government, NGO and private sector staff now commonly demand commissions from drilling contractors as well as consultants, which is a real danger for sustainable development of the water sector.

arrow The technical capacity of drillers and consultants is sufficient to implement standard rural water supply projects. Larger projects, and more complicated town water supplies involving different siting approaches, larger size drilling and greater logistical challenges can only implemented by few contractors and consultants.

The government should regulate and support the sector more vigorously, as follows:

1. License consultancy companies and groundwater professionals

2. Design standard technical protocols for drilling projects and hydrogeological investigations

3. Set up a performance monitoring system for contractors and consultants including regular field     audits of work done by drillers and consultants

4. Improve compliance and enforcement of water laws, permits and licensing conditions for the
    various stakeholders (drillers, groundwater professionals, districts, NGOs, etc) like:

a. Closer monitoring of District tender awards and issued contract types

b. Closer monitoring of NGOs and enforce implementation procedures according to standard

c. Link license extensions of drillers and groundwater professional to performance

5. Improve protocols for tender procedures including introduction of engineer’s estimates,
    standard tender documents to be used by all actors in sector (NGOs, Districts, Central
    government, multi- lateral and bi-lateral funded projects)

6. Review the implementation framework for drilling projects considering multi-year projects and
    more favorable payment schedules

7. Review taxation framework for the sector

8. Facilitate access to credit for drillers and consultants

9. Set up training programmes for drillers and groundwater professionals to improve their
    capacities  (collaborate with private sector) as well as setting up specialized technical schools
    and  courses The drillers and groundwater consultants should revitalize or start their
    association to enable a more  vigorous lobbying for their interests when working on a
    professional development of the sector.
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