MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
WHEN Mary Daka settled in Mtendere township in 1976, access to water was a huge challenge.
The nearest point from which she fetched water was Chainama Hills Hospital.
Mary would wake up at 04:00 hours to go and queue up for water which would only last her two days before she went back.
She used to spare not less than K15 for three days in a week to access water.
Even when a few communal taps were set up around the township in the early 2000, accessing the commodity was still a challenge because of the huge population.
Mary recounts how the tap would run dry while she was on the queue waiting for her turn to draw water.
In 2007, her house was connected to the water network though the flow was not consistent.
“The tap would run dry for two days, my neighbours and I depended on Mtendere Clinic for water,” she says.
However, the good news is that things have changed for most residents of Mtendere with regard to access to water following the signing of the US$355 million Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage project under Millennium Challenge Account in 2012.
The project, which involved construction of the 21-kilometre Bombay drainage, improving access to water for 20,000 houses in Mtendere township and connecting 156,000 households in Lusaka, was divided into various compacts.
Mary says access to clean water is no longer a challenge as she has a running tap at her door-step.
“I no longer have to struggle to access water compared to the past. I have also applied for my house to be connected to the sewer network,” she says.
Mary is of the view that a flushable toilet will go a long way in promoting good sanitation and land preservation through reduced digging of pit-latrines.
“I have dug four pit-latrines from 1976 to date. I am happy that I will no longer dig a pit latrine once I am connected to the sewer network,” Mary says.
Esther Sakala, another resident of Mtendere, is happy that access to clean water is no longer a challenge compared to 1983 when she settled in the township.
Esther says she no longer treks to Mtendere Clinic or Chainama Hills Hospital to fetch water because she has running water at her home.
“My friends and I used to wake up 03:00 hours to fetch water at Chainama Hills Hospital. At times we would go and knock on gates in Kabulonga to ask for water. I am happy that I can easily access water though the flow was is consistent,” she says.
Esther says she is eagerly waiting to be connected to the sewer network once she finishes building the infrastructure.
She says using a flushable toilet will promote good sanitation and hygiene for her and her neighbours.
Thelma Musonda, who lives in Jack township, is happy that she now has to access water within her vicinity following the launch of the US$10 million water and sanitation project.
She says access to clean water in Jack was a challenge as the area had a few communal taps dotted around.
“We used to wake up at as early as 03:00hours to go and queue up for water at the communal tap. It was extremely difficult to access the commodity because most households did not have taps,” Thelma says.
Millennium Challenge Corporation vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary Jean Hauch said the Lusaka water supply, sanitation and drainage project is an important stepping stone towards future development of Lusaka and the whole of Zambia.
When she recently officiated at an event to mark the end of project in Lusaka, Ms Hauch said the Millennium Challenge Corporation is the largest urban water investment that will foster economic development and reduce poverty.
She says there is need for the people of Zambia to ensure sustainability of the project so that more people can benefit from it.
“The US$ 355 million investment is expected to benefit over 1.2 million people in and around Lusaka in the next 20 years.
A cornerstone was the investment master plans for water supply and sanitation that were developed under the project,” Ms Hauch says.
Ms Hauch said the Millennium Challenge Account Zambia has also established an innovation grant programme aimed at supporting intensive solutions to improve access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and solid waste management.
And Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection permanent secretary Ed Chomba says the Millennium Challenge Account water project will significantly curb non-revenue water.
Bishop Chomba says the reduction in non-revenue water, which currently stands at 60 percent, will enhance revenue collection for the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company.
“Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company was losing huge sums of money from non-revenue water. The Lusaka water sanitation and drainage project will also improve access to water through reduced damage on infrastructure,” he says.
Bishop Chomba says the project will also enhance proper treatment of sewer following the rehabilitation of sewer network.
The Lusaka water supply, sanitation project, which commenced in 2013, ended this month though some works will run up to March 2019.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka