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6th International Rural Water Supply Network Forum

From the 29th of November to the 2d of December of 2011, the 6th RWSN Forum took place in Kampala, Uganda. Over 480 delegates from 54 countries participated in a series of parallel working sessions and plenary discussions. An exhibition comprising 28 exhibitors from the public sector, private enterprises and NGOs presented different cases, technologies and innovations on rural water supplies. This event, also provided social and networking opportunities.

The philosophy of the RWSN Forum can be summarised through six core aspects:

  • Inclusive of different perspectives;
  • Raising the quality of the submissions and thus improving communication skills within the rural water sector;
  • Sharing of knowledge and experience among equals;
  • Bringing field realities to the attention of decision-makers and funding agencies;
  • Catalysing vibrant south-south exchange and networking;
  • Accessible to all French and English speakers.

Preparation for the Forum began in 2010. Funding contributions were secured from UNICEF, WaterAid, the Hilton Foundation, WSP, Helvetas, IRC, Danida, IEA PVPS, the 6th World Water Forum, and Skat Foundation. However the event also relied on over US$ 160,000 selegate and exhibition fees. Skat Foundation, as the RWSN Secretariat provided the financial guarantee for the event.

The Forum National Organising Committee, chaired by  the Director of the Directorate of Water and Environment was instrumental in preparing for the event, including arranging the field trips.

The RWSN Secretariat, RWSN Executive Steering Committee members and Ministry of Water and Environment brought together a wide variety of informative presentations from a diverse range of practitioners and professionals. This included local and national government, the private sector and NGOs as well as academic institutions, ranging from the smallest to the largest. This was the basis for the open call for papers, films and posters that was sent out widely in April 2011. Feedback was given to 143 submissions. Practitioners as well as individuals with more experience of writing had the chance to present. In some cases, considerable support was provided to ensure that the work was able to reach the required standard. On Friday 2nd December, delegates had the option of going on field trips or attending specialist seminars organsied by IRC WASHCOST project and the International Energy Agency – Photovoltaic Pumping Programme (IEA-PVPS) programme.

Skat Foundation co-ordinated the submissions and peer review process and prepared materials for publication. It prepared the guidance for contributors and undertook a substantial portion of the technical peer-reviewing. As well as promoting and marketing the event, the team also handled the delegate and exhibitor booking and payment process. The event was supported by simulataneous English-French translation.

The feedback received from delegates, both informally and through feedback forms, was almost universally positive with a number of lasting outputs were produced:

  • The Kampala Rural Water Commitments – a statement of priorities and values ageed by the delegates in the closing plenary;
  • A range of practical and positive solutions for rural water supply to take forward to the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, in March 2012.
  • A strengthened network of professionals, which us as the basis for launching an new online RWSN networking platform;
  • An accessible and attractive report of the event that drew heavily on the experiences of the delegates that were recorded.
  • A comprehensive website in which all the accepted papers, films, poster and presentation files, and over 80 video interviews of delegates are available for future reference.


Kampala, Uganda