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Researchers Trained on New Methodologies of Improving Customer Water bill Payment Behaviour

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By Jane Anyango

Over 40 Makerere University researchers from the School of Economics were on 14th October, 2021 trained on new methodologies of information treatment into improving Water bills payments in Uganda and other countries.

The training held virtually and physically was organized and hosted by the Environment for Development Imitative (EfD-Mak) Centre.

The seminar was facilitated by Dr. David Fuente from the School of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of South Carolina USA.

Dr. David Fuente delivering his presentation online.
Dr. David Fuente delivering his presentation online.

Dr. Fuente presented a number of studies conducted in different countries including Kenya and Ethiopia under the theme, “Testing information treatments to improve the Financial   sustainability of water utilities”. The studies according to Dr. Fuente are premised on the Global water sanitation and infrastructure challenge and the Sustainable Development Goal on provision of safe and affordable water sanitation for all by 2030.

He said policy makers face the challenge of raising water prices and improving customer bill payment behaviour noting that both are politically difficult.

“Water infrastructure is capital intensive, but largely out of public view. Improving customer awareness of the capital intensity of water supply and sanitation service delivery may increase customer perception of, “fair” water prices, however, mode of information treatment likely matters and further research is needed”, the facilitator said.

Some of the Lecturers that attended the training.
Some of the Lecturers that attended the training.

Dr. David Fuente explained that customer arrears are a chronic problem in the water and sanitation sector in the global South which undermines utilities financial stability.

“Arrears undermine tilities financial stability. For example, in South Africa, households owed municipal governments 40 billion Rand (about 4 billion USD). In Kampala Uganda, 57% of residential customers accounts have arrears while in Nairobi Kenya, 60% of customers have arrears”, he cited.

Despite the challenge, Dr. Fuente observed that, very limited work on why customers do not pay their bills and common assumptions may be wrong and lead to substantial policy mistakes.

A section of participants that attended the seminar.
A section of participants that attended the seminar.

“Simple, low-cost information treatments may improve customer behavior, but evidence is needed and are likely to be panacea.Policy makers need to think carefully about deploying multiple, well targeted policy instruments to improve customer payment behavior”, he stated.

Dr. Fuente provided insights from a series of literature and studies from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa that examined customer perceptions of, “fair” water prices and information treatments to improve customer bill payment behaviour.

The studies sought to address whether information treatments can improve customer bill payments and which treatments are more effective at improving customer bill payment. The general information treatment interventions discussed to improve bill payment included hard threats of disconnection for non-payment, soft encouragement that informs tenants, simple payment reminders and routine billing information, use of subsidies, sanctions, moral suasion.

Another section of participants that attended the training.
Another section of participants that attended the training.

The goals of these studies were to reduce arrears and bill-nonpayment to improve the financial stability of utilities; Boost the agency’s financial position to cater for its investments and to increase the social welfare from the agency’s investments.

In Uganda Dr. Fuente said there is proposal that is competing for Sida funds titled, “Using information treatments to improve water bill payments under the National Water and Sewerage Corporation”.

The Director EfD-Mak Centre Prof. Edward Bbaale said, such a study is practical and primary on how to create a shock in the perceptions of people so that they can start responding to paying their bills.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (standing) delivers the welcome remarks.
Prof. Edward Bbaale (standing) delivers the welcome remarks.

Prof. Bbaale said this training was important not only to the country and researchers, based on reason that these are new techniques of analysis that researchers at the EfD-Mak centre needed to pick up and get interested to undertake similar studies.

The Director expressed the need for water agencies to have financial stability to give a good service noting that what is being proposed is to make sure that financial stability of water agencies is improved.

Prof. Bbaale shared that water supply is capital intensive and requires a lot of money to lay pipes and maintain the treatment plants and yet customers comparatively pay less.  He said, to supply clean water, expand the reach and maintain constant water supply, water supply agencies require substantial resources.

A section of male participants listens to the proceedings during the traiA section of male participants listens to proceedings during the training. ning.
A section of male participants listens to proceedings during the training.

He noted that the National Water and Sewerage Corporation of Uganda is constrained by resources to maintain their supply and pipes and at the same time lack enough resources to reach the unserved areas.

“There is no study yet in Uganda that is trying to utilize the methodologies learnt into analyzing how to improve water bill payments in Uganda despite the common knowledge that many customers have payment arrears.

I am hopeful that the proposed study in Uganda will win the Sida grant and will go a long way in informing NWSC and government on how to improve water bill payments. And, if this study is implemented, it will be a great opportunity for us to see what findings come forth and what recommendations are put forward for government to improve water bill payment”. Prof. Bbaale stated.

Prof. Edward Bbaale appreciated that water supply agencies require substantial resources to fulfill their mandate.
Prof. Edward Bbaale appreciated that water supply agencies require substantial resources to fulfill their mandate.

Participants speak on the training

Dr. Oryem John Bosco, a Lecturer in the School of Economics described the training as a good collaboration and chance for researchers to understand what is going on with other researchers.

 “And in this case, understanding what research is going on in terms of utility payments and challenges that communities face in paying water bills is a good study which links with the SDGs and the national development goals.

 So understanding why payments delay and what can make people pay their water bills is a very good innovation. From this training and the proposed Uganda study, the facilitator is intending to craft messages to the water consumers to ensure that public utilities get the desired revenue that can make them operate without too much financial constraints”, Dr. Oryem commended.

Mr. Peter Babyenda the Policy Engagement Specialist in charge of coordinating the Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) training program who is also a PhD student thanked EfD-Mak center for organizing the wonderful training.

“The presentation is new to us, and it touches on of the key issue-water, where we have so many problems. I heard there is a proposal for Uganda which I am so interested in and can’t wait to see how this study goes. I am interested in the findings and to learn more on the methodologies”, Mr. Babyenda stated.

Jane Anyango is the Principal Communication Officer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

Business & Management

Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence awards certificates to 30 Officials

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Dr. Peter Babyenda (Front Row Right) and Dr. Willy Kagarura (2nd Row 2nd from right) pose for a group photo with participants. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala, five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities, 1st-5th July 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

The Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence at the College of Business and Management Sciences, has successfully concluded a five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities. The training, held in Jinja, was attended by 30 participants who received certificates of completion at a closing ceremony on July 5, 2024. The event was graced by the Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences, Makerere University, who delivered closing remarks and awarded the certificates.

In his closing address, the Principal expressed deep gratitude and pride, thanking the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (MoFPED) for their generous financial support, which made the training possible. He highlighted the Ministry’s crucial role in identifying and nominating participants from various government bodies, emphasizing the importance of professional development in improving public investment efficiency and effectiveness.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Right) presents a certificate to one of the male participants. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala, five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities, 1st-5th July 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

The Principal also extended special thanks to the Permanent Secretaries, Vice Chancellors, and Executive Directors of the participating institutions for recognizing the significance of the training and nominating their staff to attend. He commended the dedication of the faculty members from Makerere University, MoFPED, and the National Planning Authority for their expertise and time, which ensured a fruitful learning experience for the participants.

Addressing the participants, the Principal lauded their commitment and resilience throughout the week-long training. He noted that the program equipped them with essential skills and knowledge in Public Investment Management (PIM), including project preparation, execution, procurement, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), monitoring and evaluation, and integrating climate change, social, and environmental risk management in project preparation.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Right) presents a certificate to one of the male participants. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala, five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities, 1st-5th July 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

He encouraged the participants to view this training as the first step in their journey to becoming experts in PIM, emphasizing the importance of continuing education through advanced modules in Financial and Economic appraisal of projects. The advanced training, conducted in collaboration with Cambridge Resources International (CRI) and Queens University in Canada, offers a tripartite certificate from Makerere University, MoFPED, and Queens University.

In his remarks, the Principal highlighted the broader scope of the Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence, which extends beyond training to include research, outreach activities, and advisory services to the government. He announced the Centre’s ongoing efforts to revise the Development Committee guidelines for MoFPED and assess the performance of projects selected since the first National Development Plan (NDP I). Additionally, he proposed organizing a one-day Public Investment Management Conference in October 2024 to evaluate the current state of public investments in Uganda and develop future strategies.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Right) presents a certificate to one of the female participants. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala, five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities, 1st-5th July 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

The Principal concluded by congratulating the participants on their achievement and expressing confidence in their ability to effect positive change in the management of public investments in Uganda. He acknowledged the invaluable support of the faculty, mentors, and coaches, as well as the excellent work of the PIM CoE Secretariat, headed by Dr. Willy Kagarura.

As the training workshop came to a close, the participants left with a sense of accomplishment and a renewed commitment to enhancing public investment management practices in Uganda, contributing to the country’s economic development and prosperity.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Right) presents a certificate to one of the male participants. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala, five-day training workshop for public officers from various government agencies and universities, 1st-5th July 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

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2,000 Ugandan Households to Participate in FamiLEA Project

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Prof. Edward Bbaale, Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences (Seated 2nd Right) and Dr. Stephen Wandera, the Principal Investigator (Standing Rear Right) and other partners at the training on 1st July 2024. School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FAMILEA) training for Research Assistants, 1st July 2024, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Uganda.

Scholars from Makerere University, in partnership with researchers from Europe, have launched the Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FamiLEA) project, focusing on 2000 households in the Kampala Metropolitan Area. This 3-year research initiative, which began on July 1st, includes households in Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono Districts and will continue until mid-2027.

The FamiLEA project examines families and the factors influencing changes in family structures. This research responds to the rapid and significant changes in family dynamics across Africa, including innovative kinship practices.

Dr. Stephen Wandera (Left) with participants at the training. School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FAMILEA) training for Research Assistants, 1st July 2024, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Uganda.

Dr. Stephen Wandera, the Principal Investigator (PI) from Makerere University, stated that enumerators will conduct door-to-door data collection using structured questionnaires. “Our enumerators are students from Makerere University’s Population Studies program, both undergraduate and postgraduate. We expect them to gain valuable field experience and provide validated results,” Dr. Wandera explained during the training.

The study focuses on household changes such as marriage, divorce, intermediate relationships, and networks to understand the reasons behind family changes in East Africa. Following data analysis, dissemination meetings will be held with stakeholders, including government ministries, departments, and agencies.

Participants pose for a group photo. School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FAMILEA) training for Research Assistants, 1st July 2024, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Uganda.

Earlier this year, a stakeholders’ meeting in Kampala included representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Researchers will submit reports to policymakers and prepare policy briefs to support informed policy-making and programming.

Yonatan N. Gez, Co-Principal Investigator from ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal, highlighted that the FamiLEA project is being conducted in both Kenya and Uganda, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. This interdisciplinary project involves scholars from demography, anthropology, political science, geography, and history, collaborating with universities from Switzerland, France, Kenya, Canada, and Portugal, with Makerere University as the key collaborator.

Participants pose for a group photo. School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FAMILEA) training for Research Assistants, 1st July 2024, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Uganda.

Gez noted, “We will conduct extensive surveys using both qualitative and quantitative methods in Nairobi and Kampala. Given the project’s focus on family structures and their transformation, religious and cultural leaders will play a key role in the study.”

The survey will include parents and guardians from 2000 randomly selected households, targeting individuals aged 18 to 64. The questionnaires will cover topics such as intermediate networks, emotional connections, and the impact of these factors on family changes.

 Prof. Bbaale, the Principal of CoBAMS shares a light moment with Dr. Stephen Wandera the PI of the project. School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Remaking of the Family in East Africa (FAMILEA) training for Research Assistants, 1st July 2024, Kabira Country Club, Kampala Uganda.
Prof. Bbaale, the Principal of CoBAMS shares a light moment with Dr. Stephen Wandera the PI of the project.

Prof. Edward Bbaale, Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), officiated the training. He emphasized the alignment of this research with Makerere University’s strategic direction of being a research-led institution. “This research is within our university’s strategic direction, and I congratulate all the principal investigators for securing the grant,” Prof. Bbaale said.

Prof. Bbaale also highlighted the importance of international collaboration in research, encouraging scholars to pursue similar research projects. He advised enumerators to exercise patience, intelligence, and care in the field to ensure high-quality research findings.

On behalf of the university, he thanked the African Population and Health Research Centre for their collaboration with Makerere University. “Engage with line ministries and the private sector to ensure the implementation of the research project’s recommendations,” Prof. Bbaale urged researchers.

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Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence at Makerere University Trains Over 30 Public Officers

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Prof. Edward Bbaale (Centre in suit) with Participants at the launch of the training. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa five-day intensive training program for over 30 public officers from various government agencies, Jinja, 1st-5th July 2024.

The Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence at Makerere University has launched a five-day intensive training program for over 30 public officers from various government agencies. This significant event is being held in Jinja, aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of public officers in effective investment management.

The training program was officially opened on July 1, 2024 by the Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences, Makerere University, under which the Centre of Excellence operates. In his opening remarks, the Principal emphasized the importance of building capacity within public institutions to ensure efficient and effective management of public investments.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Right) officially opens the training. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa five-day intensive training program for over 30 public officers from various government agencies, Jinja, 1st-5th July 2024.

“We are committed to equipping our public officers with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage public investments efficiently. This training is a testament to our dedication to excellence in public service,” stated the Principal.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Ms. Getrude Basiima from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the funding agency for this training program. Ms. Basiima highlighted the Ministry’s commitment to supporting capacity-building initiatives that contribute to the country’s economic development.

Ms. Getrude Basiima from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the funding agency for this training program. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa five-day intensive training program for over 30 public officers from various government agencies, Jinja, 1st-5th July 2024.

“The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is proud to support this initiative. We believe that investing in the professional development of our public officers is crucial for the sustainable growth of our nation’s economy,” Ms. Basiima remarked.

Proper Public Investment Management (PIM) is critical for ensuring that government resources are used effectively to achieve development goals. It involves rigorous planning, allocation, and monitoring of public funds to maximize socio-economic benefits and minimize wastage. Effective PIM leads to improved infrastructure, better public services, and enhanced economic growth, ultimately contributing to the overall well-being of citizens.

Some of the participants taking part in the five-day training. Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence (PIM CoE), College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa five-day intensive training program for over 30 public officers from various government agencies, Jinja, 1st-5th July 2024.

Throughout the five-day training, participants will engage in a series of interactive sessions and practical exercises designed to enhance their competencies in public investment management. The training covers various topics, project proposal writing including project planning, financial analysis, risk management, and performance evaluation.

This initiative by the Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence at Makerere University underscores the institution’s role as a leader in fostering professional development and enhancing the capacity of public sector professionals in Uganda.

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