Capital Maintenance Expenditure tool, the cost of water services in Uganda

July 11, 2019

Last week I  provided a training on a  capital maintenance expenditure – or CapManEx -  tool to staff from the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda. This tool was initially developed by Aguaconsult for the Rwandan context and has now been adapted to Uganda water systems and government needs in collaboration with our colleagues from Water for People.

This tool allows you to calculate the cost of maintenance. Yes, calculate - no estimations! The ministry wanted real costs based on the current physical state and the projected lifetime of components, instead of only estimates based on age. The following graphs show the difference in costs when considering both type of maintenance or only costs based on the lifetime of the components.


The total cost of maintenance for the next 10 years is 30% lower when corrective maintenance is not taken into account, U$ 213 000 instead of US$678 000. Estimation based only in the lifetime of the components do not provide correct values for costing and consequently for planning adequate water services delivery.

These are the key ideas that I am taking back with me from the training (most of them are not new):

  • While we are approaching SDG target number 6 and sector investment for maintenance must increase. Plus, a switch is needed from investing in new systems to investing in maintenance to assure sustainability of infrastructure already built and delivering services.
  • Maintenance is composed of corrective and preventive maintenance. In the case of major maintenace, corrective is related to components which are broken (or partially broken), and preventive is related to components which have reached the end of their lifetime. Both need to be taken into account to ensure correct maintenance of infrastructure.
  • The government needs and is demanding more accurate data when planning districts budgets for water and sanitation services.
  • This type of tool can influence policy and open a discussion on reviewing national guidelines. Currently, regardless of the coverage rate, the district must invest only 15% of the total annual development budget into CapManEx for water supply infrastructure. When a district has higher coverage rates, this amount is not enough to pay for all maintenance costs and ensure the sustainability of the services over time. 
  • Decisions are as good as the data they are based on. Without reliable and updated data, decision makers cannot cost and plan properly for the water sector (or any sector for that matter…).
  • To move from costing to planning, prioritisation decisions must be made regarding the components and swater supply schemes to be repaired first when money is tight  (which is always!) and based on national norms. For example, water supply schemes which provide service to a higher number of people, or which are  failing to meet national standards for water quality could be chosen to be repair first.

These graphs are based on real data from 16 piped systems in Gomba district, in Uganda.

Replacing a component when it does not function was estimated to be equal to the cost of a new component and major repair was considered to be equal to 50% of the replacing cost.

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