Editor's Comment

Addressing sanitation challenge in Lusaka

ZAMBIA’S achievement of enhanced human development can be harnessed through, among other things, addressing various aspects that constitute binding constraints. Poor sanitation is one such area which is a binding constraint, claiming lives through annual outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and dysentery, and causing severe environmental pollution, especially in peri-urban areas.
According to the World Bank, Zambia loses 1.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) due to public health impacts of poor sanitation, which results in child malnutrition, illness and premature death. The economic burden of inadequate sanitation falls most heavily on the poor, who are most likely to have inadequate sanitation facilities.
The Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP) shows that in 2015, only 40 percent of households in Zambia had access to improved sources of sanitation. Additionally, 27 percent of people in urban areas and 85 percent in rural areas had no access to improved sources of sanitation. The proportion of households accessing improved sources of drinking water increased from 63 percent in 2010 to 67.7 percent in 2015. Households in urban areas had more access to improved sources of drinking water at 89.2 percent compared to 51.6 percent of households in rural areas in 2015.
Lusaka is Zambia’s capital and largest of the 10 provinces in the country. The most recent census (2010) estimated the population of Lusaka Province as 2.3 million, which represented 17 percent of Zambia’s national population of 13 million. Lusaka City was estimated at 1.7 million. With a population growth rate of 4.5 percent, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated the city’s population will grow to 5 million by 2035. Lusaka City is located within Lusaka Province. The province is divided into eight districts (Lusaka, Kafue, Chongwe, Luangwa, Rufunsa, Chirundu, Chilanga and Shibuyunji).
In order to meet demand for water and sanitation services, it is required that as the population of a city increases, there must also be corresponding investment in infrastructure. Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company is grappling with the challenge of meeting the demand for sanitation services due to rapid population increase and urbanisation. Peri-urban areas pose a big challenge to the provision of sanitation services due to uncoordinated nature of development and unplanned settlements.
Lusaka has fallen behind with regard to improving access to sanitation. Over half of the population currently lack access to even a basic sanitation service. Access to sanitation services is particularly lower in peri-urban (informal) settlements as sanitation provision is generally left to the residents, who mostly use unsafe pit latrines, of which most of them are in poor condition.
In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of people in peri-urban areas use pit latrines while 10 percent use sewers and septic tanks with 1 percent engaging in open defecation.
In response to this situation, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company is implementing the Lusaka Sanitation Programme (LSP) with the aim of increasing access to sustainable sanitation services to the residents of Lusaka and strengthen the adoption of adequate sanitation and hygiene practices and to eliminate open defecation, in line with the Government’s Seventh National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
With support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Lusaka Sanitation Investment Master Plan (2011) was developed. The Master Plan provides a strategy for 100 percent coverage of Lusaka Province in both off-site (sewers) and on-site sanitation by 2035. The Lusaka Sanitation Master Plan provides a comprehensive strategy for full coverage of sanitation by 2035.
Significant investments and reforms are required to reach the target of 100 percent sanitation coverage (on-site and off-site) cited in the Sanitation Master Plan (2011) by 2035. The Master Plan estimates that US$1.9 billon is needed by 2035. The Lusaka Sanitation Programme is the first step towards the implementation of the Lusaka Sanitation Master Plan. The LSP is the single biggest sanitation programme in the history of the country to the tune of about US$280 million.
This programme is financed by four international financing institutions which include: the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank and KFW, besides the Government of the Republic of Zambia.
Protecting groundwater
The works under the LSP will protect Lusaka’s underground water by expanding the sewer network, and also providing non-sewered sanitation services and products to vulnerable low- income communities and other beneficiaries. Lusaka is built on top of highly vulnerable groundwater aquifers. In many areas, especially in the compounds, the water is close to the surface and unmanaged garbage and improperly constructed toilets make it easy for contamination to get through to the groundwater. If we act to protect groundwater by educating ourselves on how to avoid contamination, and by providing services that prevent contamination from even happening, then we keep Lusaka safe and healthy.
Sewerage improvements
This component of the project will deal with rehabilitation, upgrading and expansion of climate resilient sewer networks, sewage pump stations, wastewater treatment plants and associated works., 520km of new sewer lines will be constructed to benefit the following areas: Kafue road, Emmasdale, parts of Chaisa, Matero, Kaunda Square, industries and Kanyama,. Other areas are Villa Elizabetha, Northmead, Rhodes Park and Shakespeare.
New wastewater treatment plant
There will be a new wastewater treatment plant at Ngwerere Ponds site (replacing the existing wastewater treatment at Manchinchi/ Garden ponds and Ngwerere) and at Chunga Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). The Chunga WWTP site will be constructed with funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the German Development Bank (KfW).
Onsite sanitation
This component is focusing on constructing of public and household sanitation facilities. In that regard, a total of 5,500 toilets are being constructed in George, Kanyama and Chawama compounds. These toilets are currently being constructed at a subsidised fee of K2,400 for households to buy. In addition, a total of 100 public facilities in health centres, schools and markets are under construction in the western and eastern parts of Lusaka. The programme is also developing faecal sludge treatment plants (FSTPs) at Matero ponds and Manchinchi WWTP and building capacity in private sector service providers to work with LWSC in providing some of the services on the sanitation service chain.
LWSC, with support from the Government and cooperating partners, has demonstrated commitment in its quest to achieve sanitation for all. However, while significant progress has been made regarding taking the first steps with implementation of the Lusaka Sanitation Master Plan, there still remains a lot of work to be done. There is need to mobilise more funding and increasing national budgetary allocations to the sector consistently over the years to come.
The author is a communications and public relations specialist working for Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company

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