Feature: Zambia’s Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Invests In Water Management

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JULIUS MANDALIZA PHIRI
September 21, 2016

WATER and energy are undoubtedly important players in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional social and economic development.

The proportion of the Zambian population without access to safe drinking water remains high estimated at 47 percent with rural dwellers being the worst affected.

It is noted that several deaths each year are caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.

Public spending on water and sanitation has been quite low at about 0.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with Government spending at only 0.01 percent.

Water scarcity especially in rural areas is one of the World’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally meaning that one in every six people lacks access to safe drinking water.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits
Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) defines safe drinking water as water with microbial, chemical and physical characteristics that meets WHO guidelines on water quality.

It is noted that availability below the threshold of 1,000 cubic meters represents a state of water scarcity while anything below 500 cubic meters represents a state of absolute scarcity.

As of 2006, one third of all nations suffered from clean water scarcity but Sub-Saharan Africa had the largest number of water stressed countries of any other place on the planet and of an estimated 800 million people who live in Africa, 300 million live in a water stressed environment.

Human Development Report indicates that human use of water was mainly allocated to irrigation and agriculture adding that developing areas such as those within Africa, agriculture accounts for more than 80 percent of water consumption.

However, the geographic limitations and seasonality in availability of water hinder its optimal use for the purpose of necessitating the need for increased storage, inter-basin transfers and cooperation among
countries.

To adequately address the issue of water scarcity in Zambia, Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited (EWSC) with the help from various partners has emphasized the need to invest in water resources to reduce unnecessary suffering and ensure that the commodity was always available to its customers.

Dahlia Lungu, a Chipata resident said the investing into water supply kiosks by the water utility company EWSC had assisted a number of people to access safe drinking water.

“This is a good move what the company has done to invest in water supply service. The company must continue investing into the projects that increase access and reliability of water supply service,” she
said.

According to Company Managing Director Lytone Kanowa, the water project covering Nyimba, Katete and Chadiza has been completed and waiting commissioning.

In Nyimba, the major works carried out includes the construction of an elevated storage tank of 500 mm3 capacity, water distribution system and the district office and Chadiza works had involved major rehabilitation of the raw water pump station, water treatment plant and elevated storage tanks, which were heavily leaking making a loss of over 70 percent of water produced.

A new water distribution network was worked on including an 8 kilometre long water transport pipeline from Sadzu Water works to the township adding that a new office was also constructed.

In Katete the major works included the construction of a 1.1 million m3 earth dam and a new water treatment plant which had necessitated the migration from groundwater system.

“The ground water supply system was highly inadequate mainly due to low output. Therefore, the districts of Nyimba, Katete and Chadiza are now on 24 hours water supply service following this investment.

Initially before the water project was implemented, the hours of water supply for the districts were a maximum of 12 hours for Nyimba, 4 to 8 hours for Katete and 12 hours for Chadiza district,”Mr Kanowa said.

He explained that the total project cost was 13.92 million Euros which was equivalent to K158 million adding that the construction of the dam and water treatment plants and system has improved the quality of life.

“As you may be aware water is life. This project has already made it possible for Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited to supply 24hours of water service and improve reliability and availability of
water,” he said.

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries
Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

Mr Kanowa said the plant capacity for all the district was much bigger than the current demands meaning that the company needs less than 12 hours of pumping to satisfy 24hours the customers in the project district.

Therefore EWSC will be able to provide reliable service even in the districts of Nrimba, Katete and Chadiza the midst of the current load shedding

He said the major output of interventions for the company plan for the next five years was to improve accountability of water by reducing non-revenue water which stands at approximately 39 percent at
corporate level to less than 25 percent, increase coverage and of water supply hours especially for Chipata which has the lowest coverage of all.

To achieve this, Mr Kanowa said the company needs to expand water distribution system in the districts with excess water to supply thereby expanding to some growth centres and new districts of Vubwi
and Sinda.

He said through the National Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Programme(NUWSSP) under the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, the company was optimistic to increase coverage to all urban and peri-urban areas of Eastern Province and Chama District in Muchinga Province which later was under its jurisdiction.

“The programme for expansion of water supply services in Chipata is underway. Through Gauff Engineering Consultants, details designs for complete facelift of the water supply system in Chipata is underway and is planned to will be completed by the end of in 2017,”he said.

He said currently the company does not have capital funding for the water and sewerage project in the new districts of Vubwi and Sinda.

He said with support from Government, the detailed designs of the water supply scheme for Sinda were ready and at the moment Government was making arrangements to purchase the dam in Sinda belonging to a local business man as efforts to get groundwater did not yield good results yet.

“Perhaps hydro-geological survey needs to be done on a much larger area than what was done,” he said.

As for Vubwi, Mr Kanowa said Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) was also looking for funding through the frameworks of the NUWSSP to implement a centralized water supply scheme and probably sewerage system.

The managing director said the Ministry of Local Government has facilitated the drilling of boreholes in both Sinda and Vubwi districts.

On illegal connections, he said the company has commenced customer database cleanup in its quest to establish the number of illegal connections among other objectives.

He said the company was estimating that approximately 3200 out of a total of 17,900 customers were not billed either as a result of having illegally connected or reconnected water supply, or inactive due to
own supply from boreholes and wells.

He said the billing ratio for company was as low as 82 percent while the benchmark set by the regulator National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) was a minimum of 98 percent.

Mr Kanowa said he was elated that last year, the company was recognised as the third best performing water utility on a number of performance indicators assessed by the regulator of the water sector NWASCO.

Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said people must settle the bills with the utility company.

Strides which have been made by the company could be frustrated if people do not pay the water bills.

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