YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
POOR water supply and sanitation has been regarded as a constraint to inclusive economic growth.
In circumstances when people do not have access to clean water and good sanitation, they are likely to suffer a range of complications that affect their health and economic potential.
Women and children often bear the burden as carriers, because they have to spend most of their day drawing water for household use, abandon economic and school activities.
And as such, the Kafue Bulk Water Supply Project is one of the many interventions which the Zambian government has embarked on to address the challenge of water supply in the country especially in Lusaka.
The current estimated water demand for Lusaka stands at about 450 million litres per day while production is at approximately 200 million litres daily.
The project, which will gobble K1.5 billion will benefit mainly residents of Lusaka and will see the construction of a new raw water abstraction station on the Kafue River.
The project will encompass a water treatment plant, 66 kilometre treated water main pipeline from Kafue to Lusaka and a booster pump station in Chilanga.
Of the total project cost, the Zambian government will contribute K225 million as counterpart funding while the bulk of the financing will be obtained from the Chinese government through EXIM Bank of China.
The project once completed, is expected to produce 50 million litres of treated water per day which will result in increased supply hours in Lusaka and surrounding areas.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda commissioned the project on behalf of President Lungu in Kafue recently. Mr Lungu says the project will directly create over 600 jobs for the people of Kafue and Chilanga during the construction period.
â€œWe also expect many more jobs to be created in other industries, which will benefit from improved water supply once the project is completed,â€ he says.
The Head of State observes that the numerous developmental projects being undertaken by Government across the country require reliable water supply and sanitation services.
â€œThat is why my Government has continued to mobilise both domestic and external resources to secure good water supply and sanitation services through the water utility companies,â€ he says.
Mr Lungu says Government will continue to provide necessary support to the water sector as it focuses on achieving sustainable developmental goals and ensure a 100 percent access to both water and sanitation for the citizenry.
â€œObviously, this is not an easy undertaking. However, we believe that with the usual support from our stakeholders and co-operating partners, we will achieve this new target,â€ Mr Lungu says.
He laments that climate change and its effects have not spared Zambia and the water sector continues to be under threat as evidenced by the low water levels in the dams.
â€œAs a result, government has embarked on an aggressive programme to alleviate some of these challenges through the expansion and development of alternative energy and water sources, which will in the long run curb loadshedding and ensure the availability of water resources through the expansion and construction of new dams,â€ he says.
The President says it is important for Zambians to vote Yes in the referendum as water is one of the key issues highlighted in the Bill of Rights.
Minister of Local Government and Housing Stephen Kampyongo says for a long time, water supply and sanitation services have not been up to the expected standard not only in Lusaka but other parts of the country.
Mr Kampyongo says the Kafue Bulk water project reflects the fruits of effective water reforms in line with the vision 2030 and the revised Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP).
â€œMay I take this opportunity to instruct officers in the ministry to work closely with LWSC in improving the water supply situation in Chongwe, Rufunsa and Chirundu districts.
â€œI also want to remind LWSC to speed up the process of taking over Shibuyunji district so that our people can enjoy the benefits of improved water supply and sanitation services,â€ he says.
LWSC managing director Manuel Mutale says the growing population in Lusaka has resulted in challenges of inadequate access to clean water.
Mr Mutale says in 1990, when the company commenced operations, the population of Lusaka was estimated at 800,000 people. He adds that over the last two years, the population has grown to over 2.3 million people and it is estimated that rapid urbanisation in the area will double the population over the next 20 years to 4.9 million people.
â€œAs a company, we will continue working hard to achieve our vision which is â€œto change lives and bring pride to our people through the provision of water and sanitation servicesâ€.
â€œHowever, LWSC can only meet this vision through the provision of quality water and sanitation services at commercially and environmentally sustainable levels. I want to reiterate the companyâ€™s commitment to delivering on its mandate and assure our customers and cooperating partners that we take our responsibility seriously,â€ Mr Mutale says.
John Zimba of Lusakaâ€™s Chelstone area is happy with the project and is optimistic that once complete, LWSC will increase supply hours.
Mr Zimba says the current rationing of water by the water utility company is inconveniencing especially for people with busy schedules.
â€œThis rationing â€˜arrangementâ€™ is quite disheartening especially for single people who have tight work schedules. At times, I leave home when water has not been supplied and return home when it has been disconnected. So it is my hope once this project is complete, the LWSC will revise the supply hours taking into account the single working class,â€ Mr Zimba says.
It is the wish of Miriam Mwape of Nyumba township for LWSC to completely do away with the rationing of water.
Ms Mwape wants government through the water utility company to invest more resources to construct water plants so as to ensure all residents of Lusaka have access to the â€˜lifeâ€™ resource.
She laments that unplanned settlements has contributed to the increased demand and subsequent low supply of water in Lusaka.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka