Sustainable Sanitation and Water Renewal Systems
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Improving livelihoods by the use of CLUES planning approach in Mulago III parish, Kawempe Division, Kampala, Uganda.
Sustainable Sanitation and Water Renewal Systems (SSWARS) completed a new project, 01.03.2014 to 31.10.2014, which was funded by the Danish People’s Aid (DPA). This project, titled ‘Improving livelihoods by the use of CLUES planning approach in Mulago III Parish, Kawempe Division, Kampala, Uganda’’ used the CLUES planning approach, a community planning methodology developed by the Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing countries (Sandec), in collaboration with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). CLUES is an acronym for Community Led Urban Environmental Sanitation. The CLUES planning approach builds on a framework which balances the needs of the people with those of the environment to support human dignity and a healthy life. CLUES is a multi-sector and multi-actor approach, which accounts for the entire realm of environmental sanitation, incorporating water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and storm drainage. It emphasizes the participation of all stakeholders from an early stage in the planning process thereby strengthening community ownership, which contributes to sustainability. CLUES promotes a shift away from centralized conventional sewerage (even though it does not necessarily mean that sewerage has to be excluded) towards offering a range of technology solutions for people living in unplanned informal settlements in urban areas. The CLUES approach has three distinct elements: seven planning steps, three cross-cutting tasks relevant throughout the entire planning process, and the enabling environment which is required for sustainable interventions.
The seven steps of the CLUES planning approach are:

  • Step 1: Process ignition and demand creation
  • Step 2: Launch of the planning process,
  • Step 3: Detailed assessment of the current sanitation situation,
  • Step 4: Prioritization and validation of common sanitation problems,
  • Step5: Identification of service options,
  • Step 6: Development of action plan, and,
  • Step 7: Implementation of the action plan.

CLUES is premised on four principles:

  • People centered, meaning that it places the neighborhood and community at the core of the planning
  • process while complementing city-wide strategic planning,
  • Is multi-stakeholder focused as it employs both expert and community knowledge,
  • Aims at environmental sustainability because it encourages resource conservation and reuse/ recycling, and
  •  Promotes local solutions since it is based on the concept of ‘zones’, and solving problems within the ‘zone’ nearest to where the problems arise.


Throughout the process, it is important to consider the following cross-cutting tasks:

a)  Awareness raising and communication: Give stakeholders the opportunity to get “real-life” experience: building of good-practice demonstration units, study tours to existing similar facilities and interaction with existing users.

b)  Process Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring is the act of assessing progress and making sure the planning process stays on track. Basically, monitoring involves a situation analysis that asks 3 questions:

  1. Where are we? 
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3.  What do we need to do to make it happen?


c) Capacity Development: This includes both soft and hard skills, e.g. to select and implement appropriate environmental sanitation solutions according to the given context. Skills can be developed through trainings, sharing information and raising awareness.
The following are the enabling environmental factors, which are important for the success of the CLUES.
In fact, as a rule of thumb, before thinking of implementing CLUES, the following three minimal requirements must be met:

  • Willingness of the local government to support or tolerate such a planning process,
  • Presence of a local champion who is willing and able to take the lead in the process,
  • Skills and capacities exist at the municipal/utility level and at ward/local level (NGOs/CBOs).

Before the start of the project, SSWARS was convinced that the above conditions were met within the community of Mulago III.
The end result of the CLUES planning process is an environmental sanitation improvement action plan for the community of Mulago III. Together with the community members, an action or two, based on the community priorities, was prepared during the duration of the project. The environmental sanitation improvement action plan is now used by the community to solicit for support from government and development partners to improve the environmental sanitation in their locality. The environmental sanitation improvement action plan is a living document for the community to be regularly updated whenever some actions have been implemented. The project was for duration of eight months (01.03.2014-31.10.2014) and funding was 274.575 DKK.