MEMORY MANINGA, Lusaka
MARGRET Phiri, a resident of Mtendere in Lusaka cannot wait for the installation of water pipes in her community to be completed.
Drawing water from a communal tap has been a daunting task for her as she has to wake up as early as 04:00 am every morning to beat the long queue.
Margret explains that queuing for water is time consuming and takes away the time for work and leisure. Besides, the long queues at the communal water source in the vicinity are characterised by arguments and sometimes fights as residents accuse each other of jumping the queue.
“It has really been tough because we have to wake up as early as 04:00 hrs every morning to fetch water. Most of the time people don’t want to follow the queue, so misunderstandings arise and we end up fighting,” Margret narrates.
Mtendere is one of the high density residential areas in Lusaka facing erratic water supply and poor sanitation.
To address this problem, Government with funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States embarked on a project to install pipes in an effort to improve water reticulation in Mtendere.
The Mtendere project falls under the Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage Project (LWSSP), funded by the United States of America government to the tune of US$355 million.
To implement the US$355 million LWSSP project, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Zambia was formed as a limited company under the laws of Zambia.
The LWSSD project currently under implementation, was designed to improve water supply, sanitation and drainage in select communities in Lusaka city with a target of over 1.2 million people.
Under the Mtendere project, Government is creating waterlines and a sewer system. The water pipes that are being installed are expected to be completed by December this year.
MCA director communications and outreach, John Kunda said nine water supply, sanitation and drainage projects are in progress in Lusaka Province.
Over 22,000 households are expected to benefit from the construction of a water and sewer network in Mtendere.
“Areas like Mtendere township (some houses) have never had piped water and good sewer services before, hence we are working on the provision of piped water and sewer services to carter for 22,000 households,” Dr Kunda explained.
In Kafue district, the Lolanda treatment plant is being rehabilitated to its original capacity of supplying 110 million litres of water per day.
The plant supplies 48 percent of treated water to Lusaka city and the new waterlines are expected to supply water to areas such as Mean Wood, Ndeke, Vorna Valley, Kamanga and Chipata.
Furthermore, the Kaunda Square sewage ponds are also being renovated and additional ponds are being constructed.
The aim is to increase the capacity of the ponds and carter for a larger population.
“The existing ponds were constructed in 1970 and they can only carter for about 18,000 people. Currently the ponds are serving a population of over 50,000, hence the need to construct more ponds.
“Once the works are completed in December, the new ponds will carter for about 156,000 people,’’ Dr Kunda said.
The LWSSD also provides for the refurbishment and expansion of one of Lusaka’s biggest drain called Bombay. The drainage is expected to cover a stretch of about 28 kilometers from Lusaka South to Lusaka north.
Constructed with a concrete lining, the Bombay drain is expected to reduce flooding in Lusaka’s central business district.
As the country’s urban population continues to increase, pressure has been mounting on Government to address challenges of water supply and sanitation.
Many informal settlements in the country have no sewer systems, compelling residents who depend on ground water, to resort to building pit latrines and septic tanks, at an unsafe distance to the water source.
The inherent contamination of ground water poses a risk of water borne disease outbreaks.
Water supply and sanitation being a problem worldwide, measures have been put in place at global level to improve public health.
In September 2015, World leaders met and made a commitment to achieve seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Zambia is a signatory to the SDGs whose aim is to end poverty, fight inequality and protect the environment.
On water and sanitation, the SDGs seek to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water supply and sanitation.
Among the goals are attainment of adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all as well as the achievement of improved water quality at community level.
The LWSSD, therefore tallies with the global action plan for improving water supply and sanitation in under developed countries.
Once completed, the project will improve public health in Lusaka city and also reduce outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases among 1.2 million.
After that, unplanned settlements in the cities of Zambia, created by the widespread rural-urban migration, will be also expecting similar services from Government.
As a matter of fact, about one third of Zambia’s population lacks access to clean water supply and sanitation.