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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

Mak Public Investment Management Centre starts training of Public Officers

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Prof. Bbaale Edward (3rd Left) and Ms. Gertrude Aerone Basiima who represented Commissioner Ashaba Hannington (2nd Left) with Trainees in Mbarara on 22nd April 2024.

The Makerere University Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) have today 22nd April 2024 started training of public officers in Public Investment Management. The team is undertaking the Economic Appraisal and Stakeholder Analysis module. The training, being held in Mbarara, was opened by Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) Prof. Bbaale Edward and Commissioner Ashaba Hannington represented by Ms. Gertrude Aerone Basiima.

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The Academia & Government Officials Identify Research & Data gaps in the Management of Natural Resources in Uganda

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Participants in a group photo after the opening session on 14th March 2024. EdD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.

Environmental economists and graduate students from Makerere University held a meeting with government officials to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda.

The two-day researchers’ training organized by EfD Uganda was held at Esella Country Hotel in Kampala, on 14th and 15th March 2024,

The Deputy Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Dr. Yawe Bruno officially opening the workshop. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
The Deputy Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Dr. Yawe Bruno officially opening the workshop.

Local Government (LG) representatives were brought on board to help understand policy research questions in the local government that researchers can leverage to generate evidence to inform policy implementation and improvement in service delivery and environmental protection in general. The District Natural Resources Officer for Wakiso, Rebecca Ssabaganzi, was the lead facilitator.

Rebecca Ssabaganzi presenting the status of Local Governments in the Management of Natural Resources. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Rebecca Ssabaganzi presenting the status of Local Governments in the Management of Natural Resources.

The national policymakers, on the other hand, presented policy, capacity, research, and data gaps that researchers can focus on to improve their work. Ronald Kaggwa from the National Planning Authority facilitated the training.

Dr. Ronald Kaggwa presenting on the national priorities. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Dr. Ronald Kaggwa presenting on the national priorities.

Center Director Edward Bbaale said the purpose of the workshop was to identify what natural resources and environmental issues are being pitched in National Development Plan (NDP) IV and how Uganda is transiting from NDP III to NDP IV to inform their research.

Prof. Edward Bbaale making his remarks during the opening session. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Prof. Edward Bbaale making his remarks during the opening session.

“This is a great opportunity for our researchers to have a deeper discussion with the local government and National Planning Authority on critical issues and that the government is focusing on so we can ensure that our research is policy-relevant,” said Edward Bbaale.

He urged the government to reduce taxes on renewable energy as a key tool to encourage the public to drop the use of biomass which has negative effects on the environment and human health.

Some of the participants engaged in a group discussion. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Some of the participants engaged in a group discussion.

“Transitioning from the dirty sources of energy to the cleaner sources of energy is a very expensive venture and it requires infrastructure investments.  We would like to hear about green financing and what the government is planning to do to raise the money,” he remarked.

Rebecca Ssabaganzi makes her presentation. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Rebecca Ssabaganzi makes her presentation.

From the Local Government presentation, Ms. Rebecca Ssabaganzi focused on the role of Local Government in protection of natural resources, the structures, challenges and capacity gaps for research. Ssabaganzi stressed the need to raise public awareness on the sustainable use of  the environment and conservation as  an obligation for everyone, the need for mindset change for the public to adopt alternative energy sources and investing in eco-tourism as well as the  regulation of  building substances and valuation as a basis for revenue assessments and best development use.

Rebecca Ssabaganzi responding to questions from participants. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Rebecca Ssabaganzi responding to questions from participants.

She  explained that poor management of water, environment, and natural resources coupled with the worsening effects of climate change have resulted in high exposure to hazards and disasters, with limited capacity for climate change adaptation and mitigation, low disaster risk planning and rampant degradation of the environment and natural resources caused by low enforcement capacity.

From the national planning perspective, Ronald Kaggwa highlighted the persistent ENR management challenges inherited from NDPI, II, III to IV.

Researchers and policy makers that convened at Esella Country Hotel. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Researchers and policy makers that convened at Esella Country Hotel.

These include deteriorating state of ENR, enforcement and compliance challenges, limited use of economic incentives and income poverty among the ENR-dependent populations. Kaggwa also reported that there is low value-addition to ENR, excessive reliance on the market prices to make major decisions and challenges on how to balance the benefits and real costs of natural resource conservation.

Kaggwa proposed some thematic areas for research to inform policy. These include reviewing policy, legal, and institutional frameworks for effective ENR governance and management; reviewing the effectiveness and efficiency of the program approach to ENR governance and the likely impacts of the rationalization of ENR institutions on performance;

A section of participants in a group discussion. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
A section of participants in a group discussion.

Other research areas proposed are coordination, regulation, and monitoring of ENR management at LG and national levels, exploring the feasibility of economic instruments for ENR management, and the public good and trans-boundary nature of ENRs and governance challenges.

Key takeaways from the workshop

From the presentations and group discussions, the meeting agreed on key thematic areas for research including valuation of existing resources, appropriate mix of policies, stocktaking of existing data and the role of decentralization in protecting the environment. Other proposed areas are climate financing and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, cost-benefit analysis for an energy transition  and climate change and its effects

One of the research fellows presenting after the group discussions. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
One of the research fellows presenting after the group discussions.

The meeting also resolved to strengthen collaborations between Makerere University‘s existing projects, government ministries, departments and agencies, development partners and international agencies, financial institutions, and civil society organizations.

EfD-Mak to prepare research proposals and tailored courses

Uganda’s IGE policy engagement specialist Peter Babyenda said the meeting identified the capacity gaps in Local Governments that the center can fill, by preparing tailored courses to address gaps. The courses would entail training Local Government workers in data collection, evaluation of natural resources, stakeholder engagement, mindset change, and feasibility studies

IGE engagement specialist Dr. Peter Babyenda speaking during the workshop. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
IGE engagement specialist Dr. Peter Babyenda speaking during the workshop.

For the researchers, the meeting informed them of where they are needed and their role at a national level.

“We are preparing our research proposals to have multidisciplinary research projects, which means, we need sociologists, accountants, statisticians for data collection, etc. but also, a partnership between academia and policymakers”, Peter Babyenda said.

Dr. Nicholas Kilimani wrapped up the workshop proceedings. EfD-Makerere University Center, Kampala Uganda, training to identify research and data gaps to address the persistent environmental and natural resources (ENR) challenges in Uganda, 14th to 15th March 2024, Esella Country Hotel.
Dr. Nicholas Kilimani wrapped up the workshop proceedings.

The center will build on key issues generated from the meeting.

Jane Anyango is the Communication Officer EfD Uganda

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Prudential, ACCA, EPRC award best CoBAMS students

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The Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Principal CoBAMS-Prof. Eria Hisali, Dr. Felix Wamono and CEO of Prudential Assurance-Mr Tetteh Ayitevie with the top five Actuarial Science students of the 74th Graduation Ceremony. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University in collaboration with three partner companies have recognized and awarded best performing business graduates of the 74th graduation who were conferred with bachelors and Masters in January.

The companies including Prudential Uganda, ACCA, and EPRC presented to graduates with cash prizes, mentorship and training opportunities in the companies.

The recognizing and awarding ceremony was held at the School of Business, Makerere University on March 12 from where 12 graduates from the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) received their prizes.

While addressing the graduates and their parents, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the University Vice Chancellor, congratulated the awardees upon obtaining good degrees.

“It is very difficult to get a good Makerere degree. If you are being honoured you have got a first class, you must count yourself extremely clever and also blessed by God,” Prof Nawangwe said.

The VC said he has struggled to create a conducive learning environment for the students by restoring discipline among the students to connect them to the world.

“We have been trying hard to restore discipline and people didn’t know. So if you go anywhere in the world people know Makerere is a serious university and you will be considered favourably compared to other people.”

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe addresses the graduates, their parents and guests. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere has maintained partnership with companies already thriving in the industry to help students get exposed to the field of their work and also get opportunities through graduate training to gain experience.

Prof Nawangwe has signed several memorandums of understanding over the years with those companies and the relationship have been so helpful especially for self-growth of Makerere products.

“Our partners are in the industry understand it better than we do. When they come and inspire you, they add to what we have done here to encourage you and give you more confidence that you can go out in the world and serve humanity and succeed,” the VC told graduates.

He encouraged students to look out for opportunities across the world.

“We are living in a very competitive world because currently you may find there are around 200,000 students in Uganda with degrees and yet jobs are very scarce.”

He recalled in 1970s, when he was a student at Makerere and they were not more than 2000 people studying at the time and it was a sure deal for all of them to get employed somewhere.

A group photo at the end of the award ceremony. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

He discouraged graduates against walking on the streets of Kampala looking for jobs and encouraged them to try out international opportunities and self-employment.

“The good thing the population in the rest of the world is going down. It is only in Africa where the population is going up. With the decrease in population, there are many countries where there is a big deficit of skilled workforce.”

Prof Eria Hisali, Principal COBAMS, pledged more support to this year’s academic giants and promised to provide them with all the necessary assistance they may need.

“We have quite a number of initiatives and when we call upon you to participate in some of them, please respond positively. We are still fully available to support you in any way possible,” Prof Hisali said.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe presents the EPRC Award to Mr. Sebuliba Jude as Prof. Eria Hisali and Ms. Fatumah Namubiru witness. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

The principal lauded the VC for his tireless efforts to partner with different companies through MOUs he signs every now and then.

“For any MOU that comes his way, Prof Nawangwe has been there for us to sign them on behalf of the university,” he said.

Prudential Assurance

 The CEO of Prudential Assurance, Mr Tetteh Ayitevie congratulated the graduands saying “your relentless pursuit of knowledge and your unwavering determination have set you apart as the best and brightest in their field.”

Mr. Tetteh revealed that with the support of their Support Scheme, the awardees are not only receiving financial assistance but also mentorship and internship opportunities that will propel them towards success in their future endeavours.

Prudential Uganda rewarded the top five Actuarial Science students with $500 each.

Mr Tetteh Ayitevie addresses the graduates, their parents and guests. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Additionally, through the Prudential Actuarial Support Scheme (PASS), these students will receive scholarships fully covering their professional exam fees.

In total, Prudential Uganda has dedicated one hundred and thirty-five million shillings (UGX 135,000,000) to support the students.

The country Manager of ACCA Uganda, Ms Charlotte Kukunda, said while awarding the best student of Bachelor of Commerce, Mr ………………. And reminded the students of the exception that ACCA granted students of Commerce (Accounting). The students get 9 exceptions at ACCA level.

Ms Fatumah Namubiru from Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), congratulated the Sebuliba Jude, upon emerging the best Masters of Economics students and also called on the female students to strive hard to be among the best. Jude received a placement as a research fellow at EPRC and Shs1.5million. 

Best students

Jude Sebuliba, the best student in the Masters of Arts in Economics with CGPA of 4.95, said the conducive learning environment created space and time for them to read his books.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Eria Hisali and Mr Tetteh Ayitevie join the top five Actuarial Science students as they pose with a dummy cheque of UGX 135 million from the Prudential Actuarial Support Scheme (PASS) towards scholarships fully covering their professional exam fees. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

“I dedicated much of my time to books, perseverance, God and parents were all part of my journey up to this milestone I have reached today,” Sebuliba said.

His research was about the impact of remittances to inflation in Uganda and his findings revealed that there is a positive impact between inflation and remittances.

 “Many people go out but we don’t know the impact of the money they get to our economy.”

The best Master’s student now is eyeing a PhD if any opportunity avails and is currently blessed with a job at the Economic Research Policy Centre of Makerere University where he is employed as a researcher.

Derrick Amanya, Bachelor of Commerce (BCOM) graduate, scored a first class of CGPA 4.54 and attributes excellence to hard work and group discussions.

The research he conducted from Mbarara District was about ‘How sustainability can be adopted in furniture” He looked at ways to make furniture that has metallic components in an effort to reduce deforestation in the country.

“My research found out that if certain components of furniture are used on metallic components, it can reduce on depletion of forests to up to 60 percent,” Amanya’s findings revealed.

The fresh graduate is now enrolled for CPA and he is sitting his first exams in June, thanks to great partners, the ACCCA.

Ms. Charlotte Kukunda presents the ACCA Award to Mr. Prosper Lwamasaka as his parents, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Eria Hisali and Dr. Eric Nzibonera witness. Prudential Assurance, ACCA Uganda and EPRC award ceremony for best performing business graduates, 12th March 2024, Conference Room, Room 2.2B, Level 2, School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Anneliz Namuddu, B. Sc. Actuarial Science graduate, as well prioritized discussions after believing at University if you are not a part of any discussion group, you cannot understand the concepts.

“I always trusted God in addition to serious attention I gave to books and ensuring that she prepared for her exams in time not waiting for the last minute to panic.

Her research was about factors influencing expenditure among women in rural areas of Uganda. And used secondary data which she converted in to small variables that were convenient for her.

The research findings indicated the expenditure is mostly influenced by the sources of income women are getting and from the kind of family they are in.  Is it a single parent home or are they married.

“I thank Prudential for the scholarship they gave me to do the certification that confirms me to be a qualified actuary,” Namuddu said.

The best students B.sc Actuarial Science

  1.  Muhumuza Mark
  2. Kobugabe Michelle Audrey
  3. Uwera Ruth Michelle
  4. Bunjo Steven Hugh
  5. Namuddu Anneliz

Best students Bachelor of Commerce

  1. Lwamasaka Prosper
  2. Nanfuka Sheebah
  3. Amanya Derrick
  4. Birungi Mercy Olivia
  5. Kaganzi Devis
  6. Namubiru Phionak Rebecca

Best Master of Economics

  1. Sebuliba Jude

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