VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
RACHEL Sakala of Mtendere township in Lusaka ferries water for family use at a kiosk. Her family shares one housing structure with five other families.
While they are fortunate to have a toilet at home, the on-site pit latrine increases chances of environmental contamination and outbreak of diseases like cholera.
Since Ms Sakala and her family do not have running water at their home, every day they have to fetch about 20 buckets of water back from the water kiosk.
They use this water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and also for running the toilet.
MILLENNIUM Challenge Corporation (MCC) chief executive officer Dana Hyde (right) with Rachel Sakala (second left) in Mtendere.
But in Ms Sakalaâ€™s community, water is only available to the users for a few hours a day and the wait for the water reservoir to fill up can sometimes be very long. So Ms Sakala and her eldest daughter have to line up for water at the kiosk hoping to fill their buckets before the tap runs dry. During the dry season, the wait for the water tank at the communal tap to fill up is unbearable.
And because of what she has been going through, Ms Sakala looks forward to a future when she will no longer have to queue for water.
She says having running water at home will transform her lifestyle.
â€œIt will give me extra time to spend on sewing or earning extra money. It will also give my children time to study and attend school,â€ Ms Sakala said.
It is against this background that the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation and Drainage (LWSSD) funded by the American government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), was started.
MCC chief executive officer Dana Hyde, who told Ms Sakalaâ€™s story at the ground breaking ceremony in Lusaka recently, said the project will provide clean water and sewer access to Ms Sakala and her community.
â€œI had the opportunity to meet with Ms Sakala at her home and it is clear how important this project will be to her, her family and other members of the community,â€ Ms Hyde said.
She said sewerage access will not only rid the house of leaks and bad smells, but it will also ensure the health of her family.
â€œThis is the kind of impact this project will have on so many families across the communities in Lusaka,â€ she said.
She emphasised the importance of a safe environment which she said is top priority at MCC and that she expected the implementers â€“ Lusaka Water, Sewerage Company and the Lusaka City Council (LCC) – to maintain commitment to keeping the construction sites safe.
Ms Hyde said access to clean water and sanitation is critical to the health and prosperity of communities. â€œAnd yet, too many people in Zambia and around the world do not have access to this basic services,â€ Ms Hyde said.
The MCC is providing US$355 million to support Government efforts to improve water and sanitation in Lusaka.
The partnership will expand the supply of clean water, support critical sanitation efforts and help reduce flooding through improved drainage infrastructure.
In total, the project will make a difference in the lives of more than 1.2 million Zambians in Lusaka.
And secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba said the project aims to expand and improve the reliability of water supply, sanitation and drainage services in selected urban and peri-urban areas of Lusaka.
Mr Yamba said this is in the hope of reducing the incidence of water-related diseases, flood losses incurred by businesses and residences and generating time saving for households and businesses.
The works covered under the LWSSD project include the rehabilitation of Lolanda water treatment plant in Kafue and the Chilanga booster pump station; repair of appurtenances for the transmission main; 10 distribution centres and the primary distribution system.
It also includes replacement of the Chelston sewerage pump station and extension of secondary and tertiary networks.
The project covers water supply networks to Ngâ€™ombe, SOS, Village, Kamanga, Kwamwena and Ndeke/Vorna Valley residential areas.
Other works are the construction of kiosks and reservoirs, drilling and equipping of boreholes and household water connections.
Mr Yamba said the project will also supply and install bulk consumer water meters and connections; supply leak repair materials, tools and equipment and replacement of unsuitable and inefficient distribution network and connection pipes.
The Kaunda Square sewerage treatment pond and the 82 kilometres of sewer networks in Mtendere will be upgraded and expanded, while 9, 400 properties will be connected to the sewer network.
â€œThe expected benefits will include increased water storage and enhanced water delivery capacity,â€ Mr Yamba said.
He said there would also be a reduction in water-relatedÂ diseases such as cholera, which is currently one of the major public health concerns. This will also culminate into reduced child mortality.
Further, the time required to collect safe water will decrease and this will free the beneficiariesâ€™ time and allow them to engage in economic ventures.
Mr Yamba said the technical assistance being rendered to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company and the Lusaka City Council in the areas of asset management and drainage maintenance, respectively, will go a long way in strengthening capacity of these institutions.
And President Edgar Lungu said the water project brings hope to so many lives. .
â€œSoon very few people will remember the long hours they spent drawing water from kiosks; the inhuman sanitary conditions they experienced and the disease burden that comes with inadequate clean water supply,â€ Mr Lungu said.
He said the community will start to enjoy a higher quality of life as the dream of government for every Zambian.
Mr Lungu said the works under the water project complement Governmentâ€™s efforts towards improving infrastructure across the different sectors of the economy and promoting inclusive growth for many Zambians.
President Lungu commended the American government for its continued support to Zambia.
He said Government intends to provide reliable, clean and safe water and adequate sanitation to everyone in line with the Vision 2030.