Archive for May, 2011

May 24, 2011

Zambia: Government Injects 8 Million USD in Water Supply and Sanitation Services

By Michael Malakata
24th May 2011

After years of poor water supply and sanitation services due to dilapidated infrastructure, government funded water supply rehabilitation projects are expected to improve water supply and sanitation services around the country.

The Zambian government has released over 8 million USD to various water companies around the country to improve water supply and sanitation services.

Various water projects have been started by Southern Water and Sewerage Company (SWASCO), Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC), Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) and Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company (KWSC) aimed at improving water supply and sanitation. The projects will address the problem of poor water supply and sanitation that the country has been experiencing over the past decade.

Southern Province Minister Elijah Muchima says the grants would enable water companies to carry out emergency water works in order to improve the provision of water supply to urban and peri-urban areas around the country.

“The grants underpin the government’s resolve to invest in water supply infrastructure,” Muchima said May 14 at the launch of the Water rehabilitation project.

Southern Province Minister Elijah Muchima

Muchima says water companies have been sending distress calls for funding to the government to improve water supply and sanitation around the country. The issue of insufficient funds, Muchima said has been a major challenge as it has led to some parts of bigger and small towns to have inadequate water and sanitation services.

“But we are now determined to accelerate our efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on water by 2015,” Muchima notes.

SWASCO board chairperson Solomon Muzyamba says the grants being given by the government will help in addressing the challenges of water supply and sanitation services delivery that the company has been facing due to insufficient funds.

“From the grant, SWASCO will lay a new water network to replace the old one and will procure a new motor to equip the old unused raw water intake at the Zambezi River to ensure that the added demand for water was met by the existing water treatment plant and distribution network,” reveals Muzyamba.

The water companies have for a long time been claiming they are not making enough revenue from water supply services, accusing the Zambian government of failing to settle water bills owed to the companies by government ministries and departments.

The projects are the first major water projects that the Zambian government has embarked on using locally sourced money after the Danish government decided to halt financing water projects in the country last year.

May 23, 2011

Cameroon: Rehabilitation of Water Sources Costs 340,000 USD

By Lum Edith Achamukong
23rd May, 2011

The populations of Lower Muea, Lysoka and Owe in the South West Region now have pipe borne water. These communities had their water sources rehabilitated and handed over to them by the funding body the Rumpi Area Participatory Development Project with aid from the African Development Bank (ADB)

The three water projects that were completed at the cost of 340.000 UD dollars fall within the framework of Rumpi’s vision to reduce poverty and increase levels of income sustainably in grassroots areas.

Bathing around water sources is common in local communities in Cameroon

Many communities have within the past six years benefited from Rumpi’s largess through projects like the construction of markets, community halls, health centers, farm-to-market roads, water schemes as well as community education and action centers spread out in the entire region.

In December 2010, Rumpi’s steering committee budgeted 12 Million US dollars for projects for the period January to June 2011, the period marking the final phase of Rumpi’s six-year implementation period in Cameroon.

Inhabitants of Lower Muea, Lysoka and Owe are therefore counting themselves lucky having received one of the most invaluable gifts- the provision of potable water from a development project in its last days.

During the handing over ceremonies organized in each of these localities, the Rumpi Project coordinator Mr. Besong Ogork Ntui urged them to prudently manage and preserve the water sources for their wellbeing and that of future generations.

Mr. Ogork advised the people to accept the gift as a life saving measure coming at a time when a cholera outbreak is threatening many inhabitants of the South West Region. About 33 deaths have been recorded out of the one thousand eight hundred cases reported within a period of two months (April and May 2011)

The Traditional Rulers of the three localities extended appreciation to the Rumpi Area Participatory Development Project and the African Development Bank (ADB) for their financial support towards the realization of the water projects. They promised the total collaboration of their subjects towards the protection of the water sources.

In Owe, the Mayor of the Muyuka council Chief Mokoto Njie on behalf of the municipality thanked the Cameroonian Government through Rumpi for rehabilitating the structures providing pipe borne water to thousands of inhabitants previously exposed to water borne diseases. He was very optimistic that the health and livelihood of the people will receive a boost.

Chief Musenja of Muea opens stand tap provided by Rumpi

Before handing over each of the projects, the control team in charge of the projects spelled out the resources each of the projects will require for sustainability. The population was equally counseled to refrain from activities like bathing, laundering and farming around water sources.

It was declared to the population and other stakeholders that the Lower Muea water project was rehabilitated at the cost of 68 million FCFA and that of Owe at 67 million FCFA. The last of the three community projects is hosted by another locality Lysoka and it is said to have been realized at the cost of 45 million FCFA.

May 17, 2011

Rain Water – a Valuable Resource

By Gasirigwa Sengiyumva
17th May 2011

Tanzania, It is early in the morning and it is raining. Latifa Ally is busy collecting water as it falls from the roof of her boss’s house. There are buckets everywhere as she does not wish to miss this valuable resource.

She seems to be enjoying whatever she is doing as the smile on her face expresses. For those who played in the rain during childhood, could attest to the feeling especially when it hasn’t rained for a while. As I watch her from a distance I’m tempted to talk to her. I wish to know why she was feeling that way this morning.

Latifa Ally collects rainwater from an informal point at the corner of her house in Ubungo

She tells me, “You are not new to this area. You know the headache that water brings to us,residents of Ubungo. To me this is a blessing, since I won’t have to fetch water from a distance for a while. I have to make sure I fill all the buckets before it stops”.

Her explanation reminds me of the water woes that residents of the area and its neighbours face despite the fact that their houses sit on top of the major pipe that brings water to the city.”If it rains for an hour, I could fill all 18 buckets that we have in the house.Meanwhile, I could mop the floor, clean the toilet and wash the dishes as I try to maximize the opportunity”.

According to her, she uses at least two buckets of water to wash the dishes depending on the number of utensils used for cooking and eating.

In the bathroom (for both bathing and flushing) they use an average of seven buckets a day.However, water usage is determined by the number of people available in the house on a particular day.

She says, “This water is clean unlike the water we buy from vendors or the one stored in tanks for days or weeks. Vendors could fetch water from anywhere since their aim is to make money. Countless times we have bought saline water that we hardly use for drinking, let alone washing.”

She is cost conscious; she knows her boss spends a lot of money everyday to buy water from vendors or nearby houses that have taps. Pipe water comes once in a week for those with taps. My boss pays 300/- a bucket and sometimes price goes as high as 500/- depending on scarcity.

Maria Mvula, Latifa’s boss uses about 12,000/- to 14,000/- a week to purchase water from vendors. “If you calculate this in a month, I could pay for a number of monthly bills for those who get piped water frequently in Sinza and other affluent areas such as Masaki and Mikocheni”, she laments.

“My house has six people but the number varies depending on visitation from family members, you know our extended families. In most cases, women tend to be many. Naturally, women tend to be the most hygienic. They use a lot of water for cleanliness.

They bath twice a day.” This means a womab needs a large amount of water in her house.
If it rains like this it means saving some money, which could be used to pay ther ‘ridiculous bills’ such as electricity. There is a well outside her house. This one fills up whenever it rains. She says they collect water that they use for toilet and washing in case it doesn’t rain but sometimes they treat it and use it for bathing purposes.

Neighbours fetch water from the well also, she believes that some people use it for cooking although it seems not suitable for that. “We have seen people, in many of our neighbourhoods use unsafe water for domestic purposes and end up getting infected”, says Ms Mvula.

She adds that since authorities can not supply piped water to everybody, harvesting rain water could reduce the problem. She is of the view that if home owners could establish water collection systems and storage facilities, it could be a great relief especially during dry seasons.

One must bear in mind that most rivers that supply water to treatment plants such as Ruvu Juu and Chini, depend on rainfall. Water provision is usually a nightmare during dry season.

As I talk to these women, I gather how much they know about water and related issues.
It is an undeniable fact that in most families and societies in general, women have primary responsibility for management of household water supply, sanitation and health

May 13, 2011

Transitional Arrangement for Management of Ghana’s Urban Water Favoured after End of Current Contract

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
13th May, 2011

GHANA, In less than 60 days from today, technically on the 6th of June 2011, the current management contract for the delivery of urban water in Ghana will expire. In November 2005, the government of Ghana initiated a five year “Management Contract,” between the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Dutch South Africa establishment “Aqua Vitens Rand Limited” (AVRL) for the delivery of urban water under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal. The contract came into force on 6th June, 2006. This was the option selected by the government following recommendations by a consultant in 1994 of various restructuring options for urban water delivery in the country.

Normally, by now a system should have been identified to take over the helm of affairs once the contract ends. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and the country is seemingly caught in a state of un-preparedness as the expiry date draws closer. This was evident at the recent stakeholders’ forum in Accra on Urban Water Delivery, during which several options for interim management such as an extension of AVRL’s contract for a period of 12 to18 months were proposed. The other proposal was for an interim management team to be formed to manager affairs until a permanent management system was put in place.

The proposal to extend AVRL’s contract did not go down well with majority of the participants at the forum, who were expecting a decisive position on the issue on the part of the government –“not to extend or renew AVRL’s contract.” The contention was that “nothing has changed as far as the country’s urban water delivery situation is concerned.” However, the moderator for the forum, John Nkoom reminded the participants that the purpose of the forum “is not for a decision to be made on the issue nor is it to make a decision for the government, but it is to debate on what next steps to take and to make appropriate recommendations.”

The issue is still being hotly debated as individuals and organisations including the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) continue to urge the government not to retain AVRL. At a recent press briefing in Accra, the Executive Secretary of CONIWAS, Benjamin Arthur said after five years of operation, AVRL had failed to meet targets including improving water quality and reduction in revenue water. Therefore, government should not extend its contract.

The General Secretary for the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Jerry Addo described the contract as having “failed to meet the expectation of the consuming public.” In an interview I asked him to mention some of the expectations he was referring to. Mr. Addo explained that “the things that drove the contract included reduction in non-revenue water, efficient use of materials, and effective management of the distribution system to make water accessible to all consumers.” He added, “The bottom-line was availability, affordability and accessibility of water to consumers, but these things have not been met and all of AVRL’s activities hinged on these three elements.”

Mr. Addo said AVRL’s introduced attempts made to boost distribution were based on development programmes of the GWCL. “Yet most areas still do not have water,” he added. According to the PUWU Secretary General, all the examples of improved urban water delivery such as in Koforidua, Tamale and Kumasi, citied by AVRL “are actually the results of GWCL’s development programmes and not that of the activities of AVRL.”

During a health walk in Accra, Ghana as part of activities marking World Water Day 2011, some members of the Public Utilities Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress wore red bans in protest against any extension of the contract of Aqua Vitans Rand Ltd

On what he thought about the proposal to retain AVRL after the expiry of its contract, Mr. Addo said “it is one that all the workers are against and therefore any transitional arrangements that features AVRL after the end of the contract, will have to consider the workers position and a possible industrial unrest.”

What kind of management system was he envisaging for urban water delivery eventually? “GWCL should be put in charge of urban water delivery, but operate within the current structure, which is strategically the best for continuous donor support,” Mr. Addo said.

His sentiments were shared by the Acting Managing Director of the GWCL, Kwaku Botwe. He stated in an interview, “I would prefer to operate on the same structure where operational activities are based in the regions and districts, and the head office is a small unit with supervisory responsibilities.” He was of the view that given the same opportunity and logistical support that AVRL had, GWCL will perform. “I am asking that we should be given the chance to sign a management contract and we will work.”
Mr. Addo however added that “this requires staff to critically examine themselves, re-orient their mindset with some managerial skills and adopt a posture of boldness, commitment and responsibility.”

The Communications Manager of AVRL, Stanley Martey could not predict an extension would be granted the company to handle the transitional period after the end of the contract on the 6th of June, 2011. He however maintained that AVRL had performed creditably under the circumstances, “where the contract did not set out any baselines for measurements.” He therefore wondered the basis for which the company’s work has been judged as a failure. Mr. Martey enumerated AVRL’s success stories as including improved water quality at some major treatment plants, reduced illegal connections that translates to a reduction in non-revenue water, and reduced commercial losses.”

In an interview, a Development Partners (DP) source said, “the contract was a failure.” He attributed the said failure to shortcomings in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the GWCL and AVRL. According to the source, AVRL failed to provide the right calibre of managerial personnel as it indicated in its bid. He said “those who were eventually brought to manage the operations did not have a grasp on the issues on the ground and this was overlooked by the GWCL.” He added that GWCL also failed to put in place institutional arrangements to monitor the performance of AVRL.

The source agreed to the putting in place of a transitional arrangement to manage urban water delivery after June 6th, 2011 and hinted that a consultant supported by the World Bank has developed an interim arrangement for the sector’s management. The details will be made known by the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.

The source said the interim arrangement will provide the basis for the sector Ministry to take “a more comprehensive look at how the entire system should be managed.” He cautioned that any future Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for water delivery in the country should also focus on institutional governance and capacity to monitor. He stressed that “any weaknesses on any side of the contract, will affect the entire performance and the set targets will not be achieved.”

May 13, 2011

Rains Lift the Burden of Water Collection on Women and Children in Kenya

By Joyce Chimbi
May 12th, 2011

As poverty continues to take a female face, lack of access to water and basic sanitation continues to weigh heavily on women.

This is more evident in those who live in slums and struggle to find the KSh10 needed for five liters of water.

Water is, therefore, a crisis for women and children who continue to bear the burden of collecting it and ensuring that it sustains the day to day needs of the family. This is even more difficult in areas where they have to walk for many kilometers in the search for the life sustaining commodity.

Ugandan women from a shallow well carrying water in plastic jerricans

According to UN reports, across the world but most especially in Africa “girls drop out of school either because they have to help fetch water or because there are no adequate sanitary facilities in schools. Millions of school days are lost as a result.”

In the slums for instance, long water queues are dominated by women and children. This notwithstanding, the concept of gender and water access as well as supply has not permeated the water health and sanitation approach and discourse. They are the women and children who have to trek for hours to collect water in small containers and often are forced to make several trips in order to collect enough for the household chores.

Kenya is experiencing a season of heavy rains which according to the Director of Meteorological Department, Dr Joseph Mukabana, will ease towards the end of May. Some parts of the country that are bread basket regions will continue to experience heavy rains after this period.

However, central Kenyan where a reservoir of national dams are located will experience minimal rains which might affect the overall national supply of rainfall.

May 6, 2011

Thirteen Villages Drink From Cameroon’s BONAVADA Water project

Story by Lum Edith Achamukong
May 06, 2011

Cameroon, In the face of water scarcity and dwindling water sources, a good number of communities in Cameroon are embarking on community water projects. Members of these communities finance their water schemes through monthly dues. In some cases, foreign and local partners come in to assist technically and financially. However, the major worry remains that of sustainability of the water catchments.

The BONAVADA water scheme is a 29-year-old community project that serves over ten thousand inhabitants in thirteen villages of the Buea Sub Division. The scheme is tended by the Bokova-Bonakanda-Bova Area Development Association (BONAVADA)

Over the years, BONAVADA and her partners have cautiously managed water from three main catchments; The ‘Sambe’ ‘koke’ and ‘Ikotote’ streams located in Bwitingi and Bwiteva. Water from these sources serves some ten thousand inhabitants, a figure that is on a steady rise.

Bwiteva Water Tank

The period 1982 till present has witnessed massive population growth thanks to the socio economic development recorded by these villages. Some settlers from towns and cities have fully engaged themselves in the construction of houses with provision for reservoirs. At the time of the inception of the Water Project, only one thinly populated primary school existed in the area. Today the same water sources which are gradually drying up serve an increasing number of inhabitants, staff and pupils of four more primary schools, two kindergartens, two secondary schools as well as personnel and patients of three health centers. Moreover, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) branch in Bokova taps water from these same sources for the irrigation of hundreds of hectares of its banana plantation.

These shortcomings leave the community in dire need of more water catchments to meet the water needs of the ever growing population. More powerful water pumps are equally needed to overcome the difficulty of distributing water to homes and institutions situated mostly in hilly areas. Besides, the water catchments are situated some 4km from the residential areas.

Some short term measures are already in place to overcome these problems. According to the BONAVADA Chairman Mr. Lyonga Martin Mumbe, a monthly levy of 100FCFA is expected from every adult with the exception of students. Meanwhile those with private connections pay a yearly contribution of 6.000FCFA. This money is put at the disposal of the Water Management Committee made up of water collectors and water operators for the smooth running of the project.

Once in a while human, material and financial assistance comes in from the Ministry of Water and Mines. So far, the Buea Council has taken the responsibility of footing the high electricity bills incurred in the process of pumping out water.

The vision of the BONAVADA Chairman and co is to rehabilitate the water scheme by constructing more tanks, acquiring more pumps and extending water supply to surrounding villages, schools and health facilities. Furthermore, there are plans to embark on tree planting around the catchment area. Thanks to concerted efforts, the Australian High Commissioner to Cameroon His Excellency Ian Mcconville started the rehabilitation works by commissioning a water storage tank at Bonakanda on February 22, 2011. The Australian Government sponsored the project through a local NGO Forestry, Agriculture, Animal and Fishery Network (FAAFNET).
Recently, the beneficiary community raised 2.7millionFCFA to acquire new pumps to reinstate water supply that was interrupted for a period of seven months.

Sealing the bond between BONAVADA and Australian Government. On the right is Australian High Commissioner Ian Mcconville

The BONAVADA water scheme saw the light of day on the 6th February 1982, when the then Senior Divisional Officer for Fako Mr. Ntuba laid the foundation stone of the project at a ceremony during which the sum of close to 800.000FCFA for the project.
This measure greatly relieved the population of the health problems stemming from the absence of potable water. Besides it marked the end of the usual 8 km walk from Bonakanda village to neighboring villages to fetch water, a journey that involved the climbing of steep slopes and a general waste of time and energy.

Today the BONAVADA water scheme benefits villages like Bova I, Bova II, Bonakanda, Boteva, Bonganjo, Upper Bokova, part of Bwiteva, Bokulu and Bokwai.

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