Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation program (LVWATSAN) was first launched in 2004 by the Ministers responsible for water within the East Africa Community (EAC) with the aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation in the ‘secondary urban centres’ within the Lake Victoria Basin; ensuring the long term sustainability of the physical investments; addressing the current threats to the lake’s ecosystems from inadequate water and sanitation provision in the secondary and larger settlements around the Lake. LVWATSAN was designed by UN-HABITAT at the request of the Ministers of Water of the EAC for an integrated package of interventions, including water supply and sanitation improvements, solid waste management, and drainage improvements in key areas, as well as capacity building and training for the utilities and town planners.

Policy guidance for the LVWATSAN Initiative continues to be provided jointly by the ministers responsible for water in the partner countries and the Secretariat of the East African Community. UN-HABITAT functions as the technical and institutional facilitator, with its mandate implemented in structures established in Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed between UN-HABITAT and the Governments.

Initially, LVWATSAN targeted 10 burgeoning secondary urban centres and the program was supported primarily by UN-Habitat with the help of the Dutch grants. The 10 urban centres were in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with Kenya towns being; Kisii, Homa Bay and Bondo, Uganda towns included; Nyendo/Ssenyange, Bugemebe and Kyotera while Tanzania had Bukoba, Bunda and Muleba as well as the border town of Mutukula.

 UN-HABITAT, through its Lake Victoria Region City Development Strategies Programme identified serious and increasing gaps in sanitation, waste management and access to safe drinking water as issues for priority attention in the largest cities on the Lake; Kampala (Uganda), Kisumu (Kenya) and Mwanza (Tanzania). Moreover, dealing with public municipal pollution in the largest towns will also serve as an essential step towards a more credible enforcement of environmental performance by commercial polluters as well as in the smaller and secondary towns.

At the LVWATSAN Ministerial meetings of September 2008 in Nairobi and April 2009 in Entebbe, the Governments concerned at that time endorsed the scaling up of LVWATSAN so as to include 15 additional secondary towns with African Water Facility support. The aim of the scaling up was to target wastewater and sanitation needs, long term water security and service extension, including acceleration of Water and Sanitation coverage in low income areas. UN-HABITAT was given a renewed mandate to seek funding for its facilitation and capacity building activities among donors and International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

African Development Bank led on a Project Formulation Study for the 15 new secondary towns. The towns were across East Africa countries with Burundi having 3 towns that included: Ngozi, Muyinga and Kayanza. In Kenya, Keroka, Kericho and Isebania were among the towns while in Rwanda, Kayonza, Nyagatare and Nyanza were identified. Tnazania had Geita, Sengerema and Nansio towns added while Uganda had Mayuge, Buwama-Kayabwe-Bukakata and Ntungamo. The implementation was set to be launched in 2011 with approx. 110 MUSD grant funding from the African Water Facility. This component of LVWATSAN was called LVWATSAN Phase II. Africa Development Bank entered into a Contribution Agreement with UN-HABITAT to offer Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Programme. MWAUWASA was delegated to take the role of implementing authority for the 3 Tanzanian towns; Geita, Sengerema and Nansio, financed by AfDB. 

At the third LVWATSAN Ministerial meeting in Entebbe in April 2009, EIB was requested to lead on preparation for scaling up the initiative to the large cities. The EIB pledged to fund and manage a Project Formulation Study for Mwanza in Tanzania and Kisumu in Kenya.

The Project Formulation Study was launched in January 2011 with funding from the EU ACP Water Project Preparation Facility (25% EIB own funds / 75% EU-Water Facility) in order to provide a review of previous work and to formulate investment proposals for the medium and short terms. Added to the scope were wastewater systems in the Tanzanian towns of Bukoba and Musoma (where AFD is already present in the water sector) and upgrading basic WATSAN in 3 satellite towns of Magu, Misungwi and Lamadi. The final report carried out by consultant WS Atkins International Ltd was released in September 2012. UN-HABITAT collaborated with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) for the execution of the Project Formulation Study, particularly for the facilitation between the consultants and key stakeholders.

In 2012, the Executive Committee of the EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund approved an interest rate subsidy for EIB’s loan financing of the project as well as a technical assistance grant of EUR 7m. Included in the TA envelope is assistance for implementation of sanitation in Mwanza and engagement of NGO and communities, through an agreement with UN-HABITAT, based on the mandate it has been assigned for facilitation and capacity building within the overall framework of the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative under the respective MoUs between UN-Habitat and the governments of the East African Community.

EIB and AFD appraised the operation “LVWATSAN – Mwanza” in 2013, based on the outcomes of the Project Formulation Study, for a total project cost estimated at EUR 104.5m. The overall project comprises extension and upgrading of water supply, wastewater and sanitation in the city of MWANZA, water supply in the satellite towns of Misungwi, Magu, Lamadi, as well as wastewater and sanitation in the towns of Bukoba and Musoma. Improved sanitation in the informal/low income areas and communal facilities of Mwanza was taken as a priority, following discussions between the EIB, other funding agencies and national and local stakeholders.

In early 2014, the EIB and the AFD signed two loan agreements with the Republic of Tanzania for an amount of EUR 45m each for the financing of 86% of the investment costs; the Republic of Tanzania is financing the remaining EUR 14.5 m. The operation is being carried out as a Mutual Reliance Initiative (MRI), under EIB leadership.

The overall Project covers the Tanzanian shoreline towns under LVWATSAN, scaling it up to the 3 largest towns on the Tanzanian shore; Mwanza, Musoma, Bukoba. The Project also includes 3 burgeoning satellite communities on the shore that are associated with Mwanza water utility in varying degrees; Misungwi, Magu, Lamadi. The majority of investments and activities will be dedicated to improvement of sewerage, sanitation and waste water treatment, targeting a population area of approximately 400-500.000 at completion