Partnership project review

Singida, Tanzania




  • SAMME (a team of cross-departmental extension officers within Singida Town Council, two WaterAid staff and a regional water engineer)
  • DFID (via its Urban Authority Partnership Project - UAPP)
  • HAPA and SEMA (local NGOs)
  • WaterAid
  • CBRC (Tanzanian not-for-profit organisation) 
  • Water User Groups (WUGs) representing the peri-urban communities.


Project description


Established in mid-2002, Singida Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project was a partnership that aimed to provide water and sanitation services (watsan) to the peri-urban areas of Singida Town and build local capacity for the delivery and maintenance of these services.  Local government reform meant that Singida Town Council (STC) would later become responsible for delivery of local services. DFID and WaterAid helped to install some 189 water points in 19 peri-urban villages, while at the partnership's core was SAMME, a cross-functional management team, including two staff seconded from WaterAid, based within the Town Council.  Local NGOs HAPA, SEMA and CBRC were responsible for the delivery of the software (community engagement processes) and hardware (infrastructure installation) elements of the project.  The duration of the partnership was initially three years.




At the time of the project, DFID's Urban Authority Partnership Project (UAPP) had been helping STC prepare for local government reforms. This support included work to empower local communities and survey their needs.  A strong demand for water services had been revealed, especially in the 19 villages.  SUWASA, a recently formed autonomous public urban watsan provider, whose objectives include a need to become financially self-sufficient, was reaching less than 50% of the urban core of Singida Town.  The 19 peri-urban villages, traditionally lacking state-sponsored service, were drawing their water supply from wells and shared many characteristics of rural areas.  The project has thus borrowed elements from the new Rural Water Supply Strategy (RWSS), a strategy developed with assistance from the World Bank that encouraged local government to work with non-governmental and private sector organisations to deliver services.


Project beneficiaries


The beneficiaries were communities in the 19 peri-urban villages.  As elsewhere in Tanzania, these communities were very poor, had low levels of education and, in line with Tanzania's socialist past, looked to the state to solve their problems.


Objectives and structures of partnership


The stated aim of the partnership was to reduce poverty and improve the health status of the peri-urban population through improved access to adequate and safe water.  Four key objectives were: to provide watsan infrastructure; to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene approaches; to build and accelerate community capacity and demand; and to develop local organisational capability. 


The structure of the partnership borrowed elements of the RWSS, as well as building on WaterAid Tanzania's existing approaches, including the WAMMA structure used in other districts (a cross-departmental approach to providing demand-responsive watsan services in rural Tanzania).  A Memorandum of Understanding guided relationships between partners, complemented by sub-contracts to deliver on specific workplans.  This approach, together with joint planning, helped foster a good degree of partnership identity.


Roles and responsibilities


DFID, through UAPP, financed much of the capital investment, whilst their work on understanding community needs underpinned much of the partnership.  WaterAid brokered the partnership from the outset and provide two staff to SAMME (the project coordination unit formed by WaterAid within STC).  HAPA was responsible for community liaison; SEMA for the installation of WATSAN services; and CBRC for the formation of the local Water User Groups (or WUGs, also considered partners over the longer term).  WUGs were responsible for day-to-day operations and maintenance of the infrastructure and contributed financially to its installation.  Private sector organisations were contracted to deliver other services (such as drilling).  Many of the partners were local, as from the outset WaterAid was keen to build on existing assets and build local capacity.  At an initial stakeholder workshop, prospective partners suggested their possible roles, which were then incorporated accordingly.


Community and liaison


Community involvement was a key element from the beginning, with the project evolving from community needs identified by UAPP.  DFID and WaterAid were both keen to scale up successful demand-responsive approaches to community engagement, in order to meet Millennium Development Goals.  


Communications and feedback


The operations manual and MOU detailed mechanisms for discussion, grievance procedures and decision making and the partners met regularly.  Two challenges existed: The first was to guarantee that feedback into the partner organisations achieved senior level buy-in; the second was to ensure that critical information, in particular concerning the pace and progress of hardware and software delivery, was communicated in a timely and constructive manner. 


Evolution and institutionalisation


At the end of the project, SAMME had started to report monthly to STC Heads of Department, helping it gain support within STC. Further evolution was keenly awaited - for instance capacity development within STC and the partners, so that WaterAid could withdraw. SAMME, as a vehicle created for the project, may not have needed to continue. However, many of its roles and much of its co-ordination would need to outlive the original partnership. 




At the halfway stage, the project was largely on track, having served roughly two thirds of the villages (which were clustered according to need, with the worst-off dealt with first).  Infrastructure was by and large being installed as expected, despite some challenges related to the integration of software and hardware, and savings levels within communities.


The capacity building elements of the partnership were also making headway, though progress and indicators for these aspects were less clear.  Capacity building within SAMME was also set back by the untimely death of the training officer, who took several months to replace. 




  1. Complementarity of partners, with an emphasis on building on and reinforcing local capacity
  2. Well-defined roles, with room for partner innovation and flexibility, especially when challenged by low capacity
  3. A high level of community inclusiveness from the start and good understanding of community needs
  4. Visible delivery against project objectives and quick wins
  5. Well-defined medium-term goals to build capacity and localise roles
  6. Good partnership identity and inter-partner relationships


Next steps and replicability


At the end of the project it was recommended that, in order for it to be sustainable in the long-term, DFID and WaterAid would need to carefully hand over their roles and responsibilities to local actors.  The project would likely need some external technical and financial subsidy in the long-term, perhaps incorporated in STC's budgeting.  Dialogue with SUWASA would help ensure better alignment with public policy. 


Replicability was a further issue: the acknowledgment of the new RWSS when designing the project could help influence this nascent framework.  The project did however benefit from intensive support from DFID (in identifying and supporting community needs) and WaterAid (dedicated staffing) and this strong base may not be available elsewhere. 


Tensions between the legislative status of peri-urban communities and practice on the ground (with urban WASAs ill-equipped to meet their needs) may impair replication in other peri-urban settings.


Wider lessons


  1. An inclusive approach that builds on local assets must remain open and transparent if it is not to clash with national procurement guidelines
  2. The ability to build on assets may be constrained by a lack of local capacity - it is hard to delegate where local NGOs or the private sector are very weak 
  3. Strict application of national minimum service levels may undermine demand responsive approaches once high levels of coverage are being reached
  4. Communities must be able to hold service providers accountable and community-focused partnerships thus need to put robust accountability mechanisms in place
  5. Special structures within local government to co-ordinate and manage delivery may provide short-term gains, but in the longer term functions must be mainstreamed within existing structures
  6. All partners need to plan for the evolution of partnership, with external partners having clear exit strategies
  7. Once sustainability replaces delivery as the key issue, partnerships may need to change or dissolve.