Archive for September, 2012

September 25, 2012

SADC Launches a 2-Million Euro Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Programme

Newton Sibanda in South Africa
September 25, 2012

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has launched a 2 million Euro Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP) that aims to assist member states to fast track their improvements towards increasing access to water supply and sanitation.

The programme which was launched in Johannesburg on Monday (September 24) aims to enhance regional attainment of the millennium development goal (MDG) on water and sanitation, and support the development of post 2015 Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) goals towards a sustainable future.

The 22-month programme which is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Africa Water Facility, with a contribution from the SADC Secretariat will develop regional frameworks, tools, and methodologies to assist member states to improve the provision of safe water supply and sanitation (WSS), contributing toward socio-economic growth, poverty reduction, and regional integration.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Senior Programme Officer for Water at the SADC Secretariat Phera Ramoeli said the RWSSP was a response to one of SADC’s targets towards reducing by half, the number of people with no access to water and sanitation by 2015.

Senior Programme Officer for Water at the SADC Secretariat Phera Ramoeli

The RWSSP is an integral component of SADC’s Regional Water Policy and the current Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management which runs from 2011 to 2015.

The launch was attended by over 60 delegates from ministries responsible for water, sanitation, housing, finance and planning in the SADC member states, the Africa Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), African Union Commission (AUC) and the global Joint Monitoring Programme for Water and Sanitation.

Chief Water Policy Officer from the African Water Facility of the AfDB, Peter Akari urged SADC member states to promote infrastructure development that incorporates climate change adaptation in their interventions towards increased access to water and sanitation.

An AMCOW representative Anselme Vodunehessi commended SADC for developing regional instruments for coordinated management of water resources and urged the regional organisation to translate the frameworks into deliverables that improve the lives of people and feed into the development of the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) post 2015 WASH goals.

“We need to strengthen our monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure that the frameworks and policies we develop result in meeting our water and sanitation goals”, Mr Vodunehessi said.

The SADC RWSSP focuses on five components which have been identified during numerous stakeholder consultations since 1998 and have led to the timely development and launch of this Programme.

The five programme components include strengthening financing strategies and tools; institutional rationalisation; infrastructure development support; monitoring and reporting; and knowledge management and advocacy.

September 25, 2012

Dams Threaten River Zambezi’s Prospect

Newton Sibanda in Grahamstown, South Africa
September 25, 2012

A report recently released by a US based not-for profit International Rivers has warned against further construction of dams on the Zambezi River due to climatic risks.

The study, by Dr. Richard Beilfuss, a well-respected hydrologist with 20 years’ experience on the Zambezi, warns that new and proposed dams are ill-prepared to withstand the shocks of a changing climate and that the result could be uneconomic dams that under-perform in the face of more extreme drought, and more dangerous dams that have not been designed to handle increasingly damaging floods.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River

The report finds that existing and proposed hydropower dams are not being properly evaluated for the risks from natural hydrological variability, which is extremely high in the Zambezi, much less the risks posed by climate change.

It notes that across the continent, African leaders are under pressure to grow their national economies, and to raise standards of living for their people, which translate into increased demands for energy.

Hydropower, the report notes, is generally being promoted as a source of large-scale energy capacity for the continent and numerous large dams are being built or under consideration.

The continent has experienced recurring drought in the past quarter century, which has become a leading contributor to power shortages in numerous hydro-dependent countries.

The report states that large hydropower schemes also harm the wealth of ecological services provided by river systems that sustain human livelihoods and freshwater biodiversity and that these impacts are being compounded by climate change.

It also notes that despite these concerns, large dams are being built or proposed typically without analysis of the risks from hydrological variability that are already a hallmark of African weather patterns, much less the medium- and long-term impacts expected from climate change.

This report presents an evaluation of the hydrological risk of hydro-dependent power systems in the face of climate change, using the Zambezi Basin as a case study.

“The future of the Zambezi Basin exemplifies the challenges faced by decision-makers weighing potential benefits of hydropower development against the risks of hydrological change,” the report reads.

The Zambezi River Basin is the largest in Southern Africa, and currently has approximately 5,000 MW of installed hydropower generation capacity, including the massive Kariba- whose reservoir is, by volume, the largest in the world, and Cahora Bassa dams.

An additional 13,000 MW of hydropower potential has been identified. According to the report, none of these projects, current or proposed, has seriously incorporated considerations of climate change into project design or operation.

The report says that the Zambezi River Basin has one of the most variable climates of any major river basin in the world, with an extreme range of conditions across the catchment and through time.

“The entire Zambezi River Basin is highly susceptible to extreme droughts, often multi-year droughts and floods that occur nearly every decade. Droughts have considerable impact on river flows and hydropower production in the basin.
For example, during the severe 1991/92 drought, reduced hydropower generation resulted in an estimated $102 million reduction in GDP, $36 million reduction in export earnings, and the loss of 3,000 jobs,” the report says.

“Extreme floods have resulted in considerable loss of life, social disruptions, and extensive economic damage. Hydropower operators and river basin managers face a chronic challenge of balancing trade-offs between maintaining high reservoir levels for maximum power production and ensuring adequate reservoir storage volume for incoming floods,” it says.

The report further says the natural variability of Zambezi River flows is highly modified by large dams, particularly Kariba and Cahora Bassa dams on the mainstem, as well as Itezhi-Tezhi and Kafue Gorge Upper dams on the Kafue River tributary.

It says Zambezi hydropower dams have profoundly altered the hydrological conditions that are most important for downstream livelihoods and biodiversity, especially the timing, magnitude, duration, and frequency of seasonal flood pulses.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has categorized the Zambezi as the river basin exhibiting the “worst” potential effects of climate change among 11 major African basins, due to the resonating effect of increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall.

A boat on River Nile in Uganda. River Nile is one of the Rivers in Africa being affected greatly by climate change

The report says these staggering climate change predictions, based on the average (not extreme case) of many climate models, have profound implications for future hydropower in the Zambezi River Basin.

The report notes that most hydropower projects are designed on the basis of recent climate history and the assumption that future hydrological patterns will follow historic patterns.

“However, this notion that hydrological systems will remain “stationary” in the future (and thereby predictable for the design and operation of hydropower schemes) is no longer valid. Under future climate scenarios, a hydropower station based on the past century’s record of flows is unlikely to deliver the expected services over its lifetime.

It is likely to be over-designed relative to expected future water balances and droughts, and under-designed relative to extreme inflow events,” it says.
The report notes that extreme flooding events, a natural feature of the Zambezi River system, have become more costly downstream since the construction of large dams, and will be exacerbated by climate change.

The financial and social impact of a major dam failure in the Zambezi River Basin would be nothing short of catastrophic, it says.

The report says the design and operation of the Batoka Gorge and Mphanda Nkuwa dams now under consideration for the Zambezi illuminate these concerns and that both dams are based on historical hydrological records and have not been evaluated for the risks associated with reduced mean annual flows and more extreme flood and drought cycles.

It says the wealth of ecological services provided by river systems that sustain life are rarely given much weight in the energy planning process and that the current course of dam building in Africa is not being evaluated with respect to the impact of dam-induced hydrological changes on the ability of rural populations to adapt to new flow regimes, much less on their ability to adapt to climate change’s impacts more generally.

“ Continued dependence on hydropower systems will exacerbate the economic impact of reduced ecosystem services already associated with river development.
The value of the ecosystem services threatened by hydropower development in the Zambezi
River system is astonishing. A recent economic valuation study estimates that the annual total value of river-dependent ecosystem services in the Zambezi Delta is between US$930 million and $1.6 billion,” the report says.

It recommends that planners need to carefully consider dams in the context of how climate change will shape water supply, and how future river flows must meet competing demands for power, conservation, and water for domestic use, agriculture, industry, and other services.

The report notes that while the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) provides an excellent framework for diversifying power production and reducing dependency on hydropower, in practice, however, SAPP has emphasized large-scale coal and hydropower development to feed the regional grid, without serious consideration of climate change impacts and risks.

Other recommendations are that existing hydropower structures should be rehabilitated, refurbished, renovated, or upgraded prior to the construction of new hydropower facilities as adding new or more efficient turbines is almost always much lower impact than building new dams.

September 23, 2012

Kenya: Kanyone Residents Bask In Water Glory

By Paschal B. Bagonza, Mary Mwendwa, Gasirigwa Sengiyumva

For numerous families in rural Kenya without piped water, buying water from private vendors can cost a huge proportion of their meager household income, causing families to resort to untreated water from wells, rivers, and streams. However, the situation is different in Kanyone – one of the rural villages in northern Kenya.

Residents of Kanyone village have a reason to smile because for them, access to clean and affordable water is not a problem.

One such happy resident is Joyce Wanjiku, a mother of two. Wanjiku, in her early twenties is popularly known as Mama Charity, a name after one of her daughters.

Kanyone is located in Nanyuki, at the foot of Mt Kenya, over 200 Km, north of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Signposts in Kanyone showing the direction leading to Mount Kenya Safari Club and Wildlife Education Center in Mount Kenya National Park

Kanyone means “small bird” in Gikuyu language. The village derived the name from a Whiteman from Europe who was a wheat farmer known as Canyon. Due to local language interference, many community members could not pronounce the name Canyon; they decided to get an easier alternative – Kanyone.

Like some of the 650 residents of Kanyone, Wanjiku used to trek for long distances looking for clean and safe water, or alternatively draw it from the nearby River Nanyuki, which flows from Mt Kenya.

However, now they have piped water flowing from their taps. Wanjiku, like other nine tenants, share the water and electricity bills each month.

She says the nine tenants share the water bill of about KShs 900-950 each month, which they pay to Nanyuki Water and Sewerage Company (NAWASCO).

“Five months ago, we got an erroneous water bill of KShs 4, 000,” Wanjiku narrates further stressing that, “we felt bad. We shared the exorbitant bill amongst ourselves.”

Kanyone is now blessed to have two water kiosks which sell water to the residents at KShs 3 per 20 litre, after buying it from NAWASCO at Shs 2.

Compared to Uganda, the water sold at the kiosks is relatively cheaper. In Uganda’s capital Kampala, a 20 litre jerrycan goes for an equivalent of about KShs 6.

The extra shilling the water kiosks charge in Kanyone, is a profit for them.

With the help of Transparency International, Kenya (TI-Kenya), Kanyone has a five member committee that ensures they demand for transparent availability of clean and safe water.

Currently, there is a 15, 000 litre tank which supplies 650 residents with water from water kiosks or in people’s homes.

According to James Maina Macharia, one of the water committee members, residents are more empowered to demand for the rights and for accountability.

“We normally meet with the residents and talk about the problems they are facing and advantages and disadvantages of treated water,” Maina notes further stressing that, “most people now use water from the two kiosks. Some have already their own water from Nanyuki Water and Sewerage Company.”

He notes that water scarcity in the area is rare because there is a river and mainly the 15, 000 litre water tank from NAWASCO.

However, he says, since wild animals in Mt Kenya National Park where River Nanyuki flows from, wallow in it, the water from the river “isn’t used directly” because it is always dirty.

“We got the tank here, the distributor from the company. The water is very good. We mostly have clean treated water from the plant. So there is no scarcity of water.”

He says much as residents can get as much water as they want from River Nanyuki, it is better for residents to fetch the water from the plant.

Unlike before, “it is very safe today because there are no water borne diseases. It was caused by the dirty river, because they (residents) used to fetch and use the water direct. But today we have treated water.”

As far as water is concerned, Maina adds that TI- Kenya has empowered them, as a committee, to ask concerned authority relevant and follow up questions.

September 22, 2012

SADC to Launch Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Programme

Newton Sibanda
September 22, 2012

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will Monday next week launch a programme that aims to establish a regional framework for effective water supply and sanitation planning and management to help member states achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs) addressing water supply and sanitation.

According to a statement from SADC Water Division spokesperson Barbara Lopi, the SADC Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP) will be launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, at a workshop to be attended by over 60 delegates from ministries responsible for water and sanitation in SADC member states, and representatives from agencies implementing water and sanitation interventions.

SADC logo

The delegates will dialogue on issues affecting the water and sanitation sector with specific focus on the five thematic areas identified within the RWSSP namely:
Financing Strategies and Tools;
• Institutional Rationalization and Strengthening;
• Infrastructure Development Support;
• Monitoring and Reporting; and
• Knowledge Management, Advocacy

(RWSSP) is a 22 month-long initiative funded by the African Development Bank through the Africa Water Facility.

It is an integral component of SADC’s current Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management which runs from 2011 to 2015.

September 10, 2012

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo’s Water Woes Not Waning Soon

Busani Bafana
September 10, 2012

Residents of Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, have since last week been going without water for 72 hours under a programme to save dwindling supplies which at current consumption rates may see the city of more than 1 million people running dry.

Though used to scarce water supplies, Bulawayo residents have a new reason to worry about poor sanitation and an outbreak of diseases. Poor water supplies and sanitation programme in a number of cities in Zimbabwe led to a major cholera outbreak which killed more than 4000 people between 2008 and 2009. This year, the country has reported more than 3000 cases of typhoid.

The Bulawayo City Council is now cutting off water to households for 72 hours up from 48 hours, in a move Bulawayo residents fear is a ticket to a health crisis as good sanitation is compromised.

City authorities citing shrinking water levels in the remaining three supply dams and high daily water use by residents, this week tighten a tough water shedding programme introduced in July 2012.

Water shedding in Bulawayo is an additional measure to a standing water rationing programme that restricts domestic consumers to 300 and 350 litres a day in the high and low income areas, respectively. But efforts meant to encourage the saving of precious supplies through a planned programme are also leading to water wastage. Residents often have disposed of previously stored water and the frequent bursts in the city’s aged pipe network which have increased by 50 percent have not helped the situation.

“At first it was hard to accepted water shedding because two days were serious, not this is worse,” complained Cuthbert Nyoni, a Bulawayo resident who lives in Pelandaba suburb which has experienced the new water shedding schedule.

Residents of Bulawayo fetch water from a borehole

The city council has also formed a multi-stakeholder Water Crisis Committee headed by the Mayor to monitor the water crisis, recommend solutions, provide materials and expertise to manage the situation. In addition, has issued a notice on the water quality, urging residents to allow water to settle depending on its quality and to boil all borehole water.

Residents and sanitation professionals warn the city could be inviting serious health problems, not to mention, hoarding as a result of new measures to save water, a problem that has dogged the Bulawayo since it was founded over 100 years ago.

The water saving regime, while meant to save the city from growing dry will in the long term expose the city in the event of disease outbreak.

Senior Public Relations Officer, Nesisa Mpofu, says the city council has provided water bowsers with a capacity of at least 7000 litres as a stand to supply residential areas with water in case the shedding takes longer than the intended three days.

“Bowsers will also serve areas that are affected by bursts or low pressure during the non-water shedding hours,” Mpofu said adding the provision of bowsers was to help prevent the outbreak of diseases.

But some residents are not sure the stringent water shedding is working.

“I am not sure this decision is indeed saving water,” Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, spokesman, Roderick Fayayo said. “To save water for three days, you need more containers and often when supplies are restored, the water is brown and people throw it away. There is need to discuss this issue further as we run a huge risk of a disease outbreaks.”

Data compiled by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme shows that Zimbabwe’s national targets are 80 percent for rural sanitation, 100 percent for urban sanitation, and 100 percent for rural and urban water supply.

Based on the most recent estimates of sanitation coverage in 2010, Zimbabwe needs to increase coverage from 52 to 77 percent in urban areas and from 32 to 68 percent in rural areas to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the eight international anti-poverty and development goals that the United Nations member states agreed to achieve by the year 2015.

The current restrictions are a reflection of the magnitude of the problem faced by the city, said sanitation expert, Lovemore Mujuru, who is also the Deputy Director of the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, a non-governmental organisation.

“From a sanitation perspective, it [water shedding] has potential risks that will need to be managed,” said Mujuru. “Our sewer is water borne and if there is no water, we have to resort to the pour flow method-this means residents going out of their way to find alternative sources of water as a coping mechanism. Also hygiene is greatly compromised which gives potential risks of disease outbreaks.”

Mujuru urged the city council to engage the residents to understand the basis of the tough decisions regarding water provision, given the nation-wide challenges related to water.

“We are just emerging from a very difficult period where things had literally collapsed-so even if people have a right to water but if the water is not there, you take somebody to court but it will not immediately bring water on the table –what is important in the current scenario is the concept of progressive realisation of rights-dialogue is the key so that both residents, business and BCC work together towards resolving the challenges,” he said.

However, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Water Resources Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, last week downplayed the urgency of the water situation in Bulawayo, saying Harare and other cities have faced worse. Nkomo told councillors during a meeting in the council chambers that the situation did not warrant declaring Bulawayo a state of disaster.

A short term solution to the water woes remains a pipedream with a planned pipe link to the Mtshabezi Dam, south of the City which was expected to give the some water by end of July now anticipated to be complete by Christmas.

September 8, 2012

Malawi: Roving a Bumpy Road to Meet the MDG on Water

GEORGE MHANGO
Blantyre, Malawi
September 8, 2012

Neno District in the Southern Region of Malawi will one day lose out from development and business investment if not connected to piped water. Communities had hoped that by declaring it to be a district 10 years ago, this year, water problems would be history. On the contrary, as the area enjoys population growth, only borehole water is available on a minimal scale.

Visits to the area proved that there are three taps situated on the outskirts of the district. This hampers not only communities but institutions to deploy staff to be based there. Close to 3 000 people at the town depend on four boreholes. The whole district according to statistics obtained from the water department office has 478 boreholes.

“Most of these boreholes get damaged in the process of being overused. Maintenance is also a problem because village communities can afford to raise money just for that. It is sad that due to water related problem, some people in T/A Dambe suffered from Typhoid,” says Wyson Kuseli, who works as district water officer in Neno.

Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex

Although, Neno District Hospital and the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) have a mini-system of pumping water, it only caters for the hospital and their respective staff because of its capacity. The system is also not enough to provide the much need water, deemed to be life among human kind.

“Most of the communities are left out with no option but queue for borehole water together with some members of staff based here,” says Group Village Headman (GVH) Chekucheku, backed by other chiefs that the whole district needs piped water. Under GVH Chekucheku there are four Village Headmen such as Donda, Nkhukuzalira, Helani and Nedi, whose subjects spend sleepless nights on how to convince government to bring portable water there.

With a population of 107 317, Neno has four Traditional Authorities such as Dambe, Chekucheku, Mlauli and Symon. Out of the total population, 58 159 are people under the age of 18, a development that symbolises growth of the town and need for planning. Women too are not amused with the situation. The Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) has since zeroed in to deal with the problem not only in Neno, but various areas in the region.

“Once funded by the World Bank in form of a grant under the National Water Development phase two, work is expected to begin and it will not take four months,” says chief executive officer for SRWB Martin Chizalema.

Water problems faced in Neno are just a tip of the iceberg since most people depend on unprotected water sources countrywide. Challenges on the ground contradict a 2011 Malawi Sector Performance report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development. UNICEF also says water supply in rural areas is at 77 out of the 67 percent while for urban areas it is at 92 out of the 95 percent required by the UN MDG on Water and Sanitation by 2015. Initially, 85 percent of people live in rural areas. To this effect, Unicef is also advocating for provision of safe drinking water and sanitation measures.

A kid stands close to a water tank. Rainwater tanks are vital in water harvest and storage

The 2011 UN report also says Malawi is on course to meeting the MDG on water. But such percentages do not regard the long distances people walk, low water pressure and the damaged boreholes that are staying idle. Water related organisations say, 30 percent of all the boreholes are damaged and were not sunk properly.

Although, this means Malawi is doing well, most major cities and towns still face water problem. In Blantyre alone statistics show production capacity being pegged at 86,000 m3 per day against a population of close to 700 000, something that leads to water shortages in the townships such as Chilobwe, Zingwangwa, Bangwe and Nidrande.

In terms of what needs to be done, Minister of Water and Irrigation Development Ritchie Muheya says government is to provide safe drinking water in both urban and rural areas by initiating a ground water pumping project. “For example, in Dowa and Ntcheu, the system is underway. We are working with donors and local NGOs,” he says.

“However, there is more to be done in Lilongwe and Blantyre. World Bank also helps in the provision of safe drinking water. At the moment, the Northern Region Water Board, Lilongwe Water Board and Blantyre Water Board through the National Water Development Project are expected to improve their efficiencies,” says Muheya.

This is why Blantyre Water Board (BWB) management has secured funding to improve water situation. The European Investment Bank and European Union are funding the project as a loan and grant.

Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health

Apart from Muheya, Minister of Local Government Grace Maseko says plans are on to bring water to beneficiaries of the rural growth centers in the country, former president Bingu wa Mutharika singled out when he was in power.

Water Services Association of Malawi (Wasama), which acts as middle link between government and water service providers has since rolled out its operations to assist in bringing safe drinking water countrywide.

“Previously, it was difficult to monitor operations of water service providers. The plan is in line with the water and sanitation sector that is prioritized in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS),” says Wasama executive secretary Benedicto Chakhame.

A total of US$ 50 000 was allocated to integrated rural development in the 2012/2013 budget for programmes to do with rural growth centers and market structures, water and sanitation inclusive. Initially, these are clear signs that water in rural and urban areas, which are a must if Malawi is to meet the UN championed MDGs will be provided.

FAST FACTS:

• UN says Lilongwe is course to achieving the MDG on water and sanitation by 2015
• Currently, water supply in rural areas is at 77 and for urban areas at 92 percent
• However, up to 40 percent of all rural water points simply do not work
• World Bank is funding most of the water projects in Malawi
• Jaica is implementing borehole projects in various districts including Neno.
• Neno, one of the rural growth centres has three taps and 478 boreholes.

September 8, 2012

Malawi: Saving Water Kiosks from Political Interference

George Mhango
Blantyre, Malawi
September 08,2012

Each time a new political party wins a parliamentary seat, some communities in Ndirande, Blantyre know it is that time once again that ugly political bickering hogs dominance of water Kiosks in their constituency.

Communities would be denied their basic green right to portable and safe piped water at the kiosks – their political inclination can be the only unforgivable sin they have committed.

This is a community structure, which becomes politically prone and a game play at the expense of people’s health or call it life and effective service delivery.

Snap interviews with some people unveiled that among other things, once a new committee loyal to the winning MP is formed and takes over the kiosk – It runs a risk of being either damaged and or completely closed down during protests by the outgoing members who are against the regime change.

One of the water Kiosks in Ndirande Malawi where ownership is a problem

They said the worst scenario can be water disconnection due to unsettled bills by the previous committee, which could have performed on assumptions, that their parliamentarian will settle the bills.

Blantyre City Central parliamentarian, Eunice Makanga says about 10 000 USD was left by the previous committee in her area. She however adds the present committee ensures that politics does not take centre stage.

“Through the new committee, we agreed with Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to settle the unsettled bill in bits,” she says.

In addition, there are job losses of a community loyal to the outgoing member of Parliament. However, Jim and Bettie like any other community members are the ultimate victims caught in such dirty political mudslinging prevalent in such water kiosks mainly in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.

Women depend on few boreholes

The Ndirande-Malabada saga, speaks volumes of how politics can affect service delivery, where 103 new recruited water attendants from 80 kiosks were sacked apparently by People’s Party loyalists.

Attendants Mebo Kambilonjo, Dorothy Mahefu and Grace Maganda from Ndirande Malabada confirmed recently to the media of being sacked for allegedly belonging to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The People’s Party (PP) deputy publicity, Ken Msonda did not deny attributing the trend to political change. He said however, the party was resolving the matter.

“Politicians will consolidate their power–and they will make sure their party members control kiosks. Either they employ and or give them most strategic positions,” Grace Nyimbiri, a community member says.

According to Andrew Mbewe, the Supervisor of Ndirande Malabada Water Users Association (WUA), DPP followers claim no one would stop them now because it is their time to have the benefits.
“They have been selling water at exorbitant prices. But where the proceeds go, is no body’s business,” Mbewe alleges.

The Water Kiosks Project was rolled out to provide access to clean and affordable drinking water to low-income earners and in communities which do not have the capacity to basic domestic supply network such as water tapes at household level.

To ensure communal water kiosks management, a best practice model under the Water Users Association (WUA) which is all inclusive of stakeholders from religious, political, traditional, and ordinary members was developed.

Under WUAs, at least 280 000 people in Lilongwe have access to potable water from the water kiosks from the initial target of 800 000. And in Blantyre, about 90 to 150 households depend on 424 water kiosks.

WUA’s run about 60 percent of kiosks in Lilongwe whilst about 18 percent are run through the Private and Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement – and 22 percent of them are run by the board.

While as Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) public relations officer, Trevor Phoya notes that political interference is minimal in Lilongwe, it is only the contrary in Malawi’s commercial hub, Blantyre.

Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) public relations officer, Trevor Phoya

“The board has engaged the community to understand that water is for everyone. And the continued public awareness on settling water bills has been critical in our messaging to ensure sustainable services,” according to Innocent Mbvundula, public relations officer for Blantyre Water Board (BWB).

The BWB and LWB is constructing 363 and 372 Water Kiosks respectively with support from the National Water Development Programme (NWDP) in the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development which received funding from the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The project of water kiosks also take place in Southern Region, Central Region and Northern Region Water Boards with a different financier and there are no cases of political interferences random interviews with management of such boards show.

Further, the rehabilitation of Walkers Ferry and Chileka pumping stations in BWB will increase production and sustainable supply to 105 million liters per day from 86 million liters per day.

Although, UN statistics show Lilongwe meeting MDG seven on ensure environmental sustainability which also seeks to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, local NGOs think otherwise.

It is argued that the UN statistics tend to understate the extent of water supply and sanitation challenges which is to a larger extent, hampered by insufficient monitoring strategies of either the population or its coverage.

The bottom line however is, increased public awareness against political interference will resuscitate the hope for sustainable water supply at household level and community involvement to look after their water resources and their communal Kiosks.

And that 70% of multi-sectoral efforts would have scaled up on proper water and Sanitation by 2015, accordingly with the MDG goal number seven.

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