Scaling Up Water Supply: A Focus on Zambia’s Eastern Water And Sewerage Company

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Julius Phiri
April 19, 2013

ZAMBIA has vast water resources in form of rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater, but the declining patterns over the years have had a significant adverse impact on the country’s water resources.

In terms of groundwater, the country has favorable geological conditions for accessing groundwater with regard to depth, storage capacity, available yields and exploitation potential.
It is not disputed that over the years, strides have been made towards improved water service delivery to the urban population.

This is due to cognizance of the concerted efforts of the Zambian Government, cooperating partners and many other stakeholders that have contributed to improved water supply and sanitation service provision in Zambia.

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone's life
Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone’s life

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) is charged with the responsibility of regulating water supply and sanitation service provision for efficiency and sustainability. In executing the tasks, NWASCO ensure that the commercial utility companies abide by the set guidelines and standards of service provision.

“We wish to underscore the critical role Local Authorities play in augmenting water supply and sanitation service delivery as far as enhancing coordination of development planning with service delivery for improved service coverage,” said NWASCO Director Kelvin Chitumbo.

The increased investment in water supply and sanitation service provision specifically, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other efforts by various partners must be applauded.

Mr. Chitumbo said NWASCO will continue to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing and other stakeholders for the betterment of the sector.

According to the National Water Policy of 1994, the National Environmental Support Programme and the Water Resource Master Plan 1995 to 2015 outlined strategies and comprehensive plans of action to develop the water sector to realize its full potential for Zambia’s social and economic development.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people
Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Still water resource management has not succeeded to sustainability improve access to water or prevent the pollution of both surface and groundwater. It is not disputed that water has played important role in irrigation, livestock watering, aquaculture, fisheries, food processing and other industries of the national economy.

The National Irrigation Plan (NIP) whose focus is to make Zambia’s agriculture less dependent on rain envisages intensive exploitation of the country’s water resources irrigation.

Water demand in manufacturing is projected to increase to 446,000 cubic millimeters a day by 2015 adding that the water resources are also vital for Zambia’s energy sector.

However, some successes have been achieved in the early and late 1990s during the implementation of the Drought Relief Programme (DRP) thereby upgrading of squatter compounds in peri-urban areas and the rehabilitation of urban water supply programmes which gave a rise to increase in access to safe water supply.

The programme was targeted at drilling and rehabilitating of boreholes as well as wells in the prone areas of Eastern Province and other parts of the country.

Based on the construction and rehabilitation water and sanitation facilities by 2005 access to safe water supplies in Zambia was estimated at 89 percent of the population in urban areas and 37 percent of the population in rural areas in 2000.

For sanitation, it was estimated that 33 percent for urban areas in 2000 and four percent for rural areas.

With respect to this, Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC), the only provincial utility company in Eastern Province has continued to implement programmes in most districts of the province in order to improve access to water and sanitation services.

The Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) has continued to offer support to the provincial water utility company.

The DTF was established by the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) under the Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) Act No 28 of 1997 as an instrument to assist Commercial Utilities (CUs) to improve WSS services with a primary focus on low-income areas. The DTF got operationalised through statutory instruments No. 65 of 2001 and No. 40 of 2004 and has been functional since then.

Zambia joined the rest of the universe in commemorating the World Water Day under the global theme ‘Water Cooperation’, the water utility company has also continued to support the planning, execution, management, operation and maintenance of the good services to its masses.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation
2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22 December 1992 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water to be observed starting in 1993 in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) contained in Chapter 18 Fresh Water Resources of Agenda 21.

EWSC Managing Director Wamuwi Changani said Petauke, Lundazi and Mambwe districts including Chama in Muchinga Province infrastructure rehabiliatation during phase one with the support of Zambian Government and cooperating partners.

Mr Changani said it was the responsibility of the company to provide safe and affordable water to its clients in the province.

“The year, 2013 we look back to a troublesome year when the power crisis hit the company to unprecedented levels further eroding our capacity to maintain favour-able budgetary monitoring. Despite these challenges we weathered the storm and saw the Quarter closing on a favour-able financial and cash-flow note,”he said.

With its motto “EVERY DROP COUNTS”, Eastern Water and Sewerage Company has been striving to provide safe, adequate and affordable water supply and sanitation services with maximum efficiency to the exiting as well as potential clients in the urban and peri-urban areas of the province.

“Our vision is to be model commercial utility exceeding expectations in delivering water supply and sanitation services to all the population in the urban and peri-urban areas of Eastern Province,”Mr Changani said.

Mr Changani urged the all Government departments to release funds for payment of utility bills and help Eastern Water and Sewerage Company manage the provision of clean water supply in all districts of Eastern Province.

It is evident that financing towards the sector is a mammoth task needing concerted efforts by various actors.

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