Julius Mandaliza Phiri
November 13, 2012

WATER supply and sanitation in Zambia is compounded by wide discrepancies in access to an improved water foundation between urban and rural areas.

In peri-urban areas, access has been significantly expanded through the construction of water kiosks while the most important reforms have been carried out since 1989 with a focus on urban areas.

A water Kiosk in Ndirande Malawi. In places without access to clean water children and walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers.

Eleven regional commercial utilities were established to replace disjointed service provision by the Ministry of Local Governments and Housing in the country.

Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company, Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company, Nkana Water and Sewerage Company in Copperbelt Province, North-Western Water and Sewerage Company in North-Western Province, Western Water and Sewerage Company in Western Province, Southern Water and Sewerage Company in Southern Province, Eastern Water and Sewerage Company in Eastern Province, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company in Lusaka Province, Luapula Water and Sewerage Company in Luapula Province, Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company in Central Province and Chambeshi Water and Sewerage Company in Northern Province.

Nevertheless, the reform process has only partially achieved its objective of which investment levels had remain at only a fraction of what would be needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) and the level of non-revenue water remains high at 44 percent by 2010.

The investments include access to quality water and responsibility for water supply and sanitation policy.

Because of this external cooperation such as African Development Bank, Denmark, German, Japan as well as the World Bank had been investing a lot in the water sector by improving the water supply in the sub-Saharan countries from 1990s until 2008.

In 2008 only 60 percent of the population of Zambia had access to an improved source of water supply and 49 percent had access to adequate sanitation.

The water kiosks, which were first introduced in Zambia in 2006 were being operated in various townships adding that the kiosks had been erected in densely populated townships like Mchenga,Mchini, Munga,Magazine, Chisitu and Nabvutika among others.
Lack of access to water and sanitation has significant negative social impacts in particular on girls and women who were often in charge of collecting water for their villages and homes – sometimes by walking extremely long distances to do so.

Water Resources

Unlike many other countries in the region Zambia has more than adequate water resources, although during the dry season water resources may be scarce, especially in the southern part of the country.

Water scarcity is one of the world’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally

The annual rainfall averages between 1400 mm in the north and gradually declines to 700 mm in the south.

The country is rich in rivers, such as the transboundary Zambezi and lakes Tanganyika, Mweru and Kariba.

It is estimated that only 1.5 percent of the annual renewable water resources are being used at present.There are significant regional differences across the country with regard to place and time when water is available.

Responsibilities in the sector are clearly separated between the Ministry of Local Government and National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) which is an economic regulation and local government as well as commercial utilities owned by local government in the service provision in urban areas.


The Germany supports the water and sanitation sector in Zambia through financial cooperation carried out by KfW Development Bank and German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) being carried out.

German aid has been particularly involved in expanding services to the urban poor through water kiosks, supported via the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF).

In the Eastern Province, which currently has only a single commercial utility called Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC) the German government has been assisting in commercializing the service delivery in small towns outside of Chipata.

Through the support of KfW 520 wells have been built or rehabilitated in eight districts of the Eastern Provinces.

Sanitation facilities have been built at schools, health posts and measures to promote appropriate hygiene behavior have been supported.

Recently the Germany government announced that it would provide Eastern Province with K106.5 billion under the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation programme.

The three-phase project will utilize K46.5 billion towards the improvement of the water infrastructure in the towns through the Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC).

Former Germany ambassador Frank Meyke disclosed the development during the handover of the EWSC water treatment plant in Petauke that his government would make available the funds in three phases to Urban Water Supply and Sanitation being implemented by the provincial water utility.

Ambassador Meyke said the K46.5 billion will be made in the first phase towards the water infrastructure in the towns of Petauke, Lundazi, Mambwe and Chama respectively.

He said the works will include the drilling of boreholes, installation of pumps, construction of storage reservoirs, laying of pipes, construction of water kiosks, and rehabilitation of sanitation facilities in school s and hospitals as well as maintenance works on Lundazi Dam.

Ambassador Meyke said the project would benefit 100,000 people many of whom would enjoy such services for the first time.
“In Eastern Province, a total of K106.5 billion will be made available in three phases to Urban Water Supply and Sanitation. At the end of the first phase, K46.5 billion will be disbursed to improve water infrastructure in the towns of Petauke, Lundazi, Chama and Mambwe,” he said.

The project would soon go into the second phase in the towns of Chadiza, Nyimba, Katete and Chipata.

Ambassador Meyke said beside the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation programme in Eastern Province, German also supported the rural sector where close to 2000 water points were constructed, reaching approximately 600,000 rural people.

He said the value of the projects amounted to a total sum of K177 billion in the province.
The envoy said at the recent Government negotiations on development cooperation between the two governments that in November last year a total of K215 billion was committed for future support to the Zambian water and sanitation sector.

Ambassador Meyke said 880 million Euros had been provided under the German-Zambia Development Cooperation for over 40 years, saying the bulk of this had been allocated to the water and sanitation sector.
He said German would continue supporting Zambia in increasing access to safe drinking water and to improved sanitation facilities.

He said through the improvement of water and sanitation, Zambia would be assisted to achieve some of the MDGs by 2015.
Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda in a speech read for him by Permanent Secretary Hlobotha Nkunika commended Germany for the support being rendered to Zambia.

He was happy that the cooperation between the two countries in the water sector dated back to the 1990s when the Government of Zambia commenced the water sector reform programme.

“The Germany Government has been key to the success of the water sector through the support it has given to Southern and North-Western Water and Sewerage Companies, NWASCO and to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing,” the minister said.
He said the Zambian Government was committed to continue the steadfast sector reforms of 1994 implementation of the water sector and the concept of commercialization.

Banda however said the Government was aware that EWSC was owed K3.5 billion in outstanding water bills by various departments.
He directed all Government departments with outstanding water bills to liquidate them or face disconnection by the water supply company.

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