Water management in urban areas

Fort Portal is located in western Uganda and has a population of 50-60,000. (c) Join For Water

Uganda/Flanders – Aquafin and Join For Water have been partners for quite a while now. Our overlapping mission? Making waves in sustainable water resource management. Aquafin dives deep into Flanders (Belgium), while Join For Water works across diverse regions in the  Global South. 

You might think that these contexts are worlds apart (and they are!). Water challenges in Uganda and in Belgium are seemingly incomparable. But, cities across the world do face similar challenges when it comes to water management. Aquafin has a strong expertise in developing drought and rainwater plans custom-fit for Flanders’ cities and municipalities. This expertise is based on a methodology that can be transferred across borders and could resonate with other countries and cities 

Therefore, in  November 2023 we organized an online exchange seminar in Uganda for our partners, water management practitioners,  and authorities of Fort Portal City. We delved into three big objectives:  

  1. Unraveling drought and rainwater plans in Flanders’ cityscape. 
  2. Understanding the essence of these plans. 
  3. Exploring Aquafin’s methodology in developing  rainwater and drought plans. 

 Who should pay for (the damage by) flood waters?

Aquafin didn’t just present theories; they used a tangible example from a Belgian municipality that is similar in characteristics to Fort Portal City in Uganda. Their presentation and the subsequent discussion with participants showed that there are not only crucial parallels in the need for drought and rainwater plans—both cities sometimes facing excesses or shortages in water—but also similar challenges. One challenge is for example the financing of measures across administrative boundaries: how to address the problem of flood waters that originate outside the jurisdiction of municipalities? Who is responsible for managing that water and who should pay for it? Furthermore, Uganda faces its own unique challenge: accessing current, water-related data to sculpt evidence-backed action plans. 

In short, this seminar wasn’t just a sit-and-listen affair; it ignited some critical reflections, and explored the possibilities and usefulness of exchanging  expertise and knowledge across borders.

We thank Aquafin for their enthusiastic contributions and look forward to further collaboration in the future!