NWASCO CALLS FOR MORE INVESTMENTS IN THE WATER SECTOR AS THE WORLD COMMEMORATES WORLD WATER DAY
The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) says the challenge of urbanization in the provision of water supply and sanitation can only be addressed with more investments in the water sector.
NWASCO observes that this year’s world water day theme; water for cities- responding to the urban challenge dares stakeholders to critically think through the challenge of urbanization in light of water supply and sanitation provision. Highlighting water management challenges facing modern cities is timely. For water, a basic need, am afraid every one of us is a stakeholder and there is need to respond positively in finding a solution to the urban challenge.
According to statistical data from UNESCO, half of the Earth’s population lives in cities. In two decades, five billion people, or 60 percent of the world’s population, will be urban dwellers. UNESCO also reports that urban population is growing by five million people every month. By choosing this theme for WWD 2011, the United Nations hopes it will serve as an incentive for governments, organizations, councils and local institutions and citizens around the globe to pledge to face water management challenges in cities.
The 2010 National Census highlights interesting facts on how the country’s population is segmented. Approximately, the population of Zambia now stands at slightly over 13 million, with an average annual growth rate of 3.2% between the year 2000-2010. The current census shows an increase in urban dwellers at 39 % from 35% in 2000 while residents of rural areas account for 61% of the population from 65% . Lusaka Province now has the largest population with 2.2 million people followed by the Copperbelt with 1.95 million, Northern with 1.7 million, Eastern with 1.7 and Southern with 1.6 million.
Despite the influx of people migrating, investment in infrastructure has struggled to keep up with the rate of urban migration and new challenges continue to emerge.These modern challenges call on the government to find sustainable solutions to providing equitable access to water and urban sanitation provision as well as balance competing needs of the cities’ dwellers.
Government’s Water policy emphasizes that water is a social and economic good and, as such, should be developed and managed in a manner that provides economic benefits, human dignity and social well-being for all Citizens. Water and sanitation are critical factors to alleviate poverty and hunger, for sustainable development, environmental integrity, and human health. Even though Zambia boasts of having 60% of water resources in the SADC region yet access to proper water supply and sanitation remains a major challenge.
The growing demand for water in cities is a huge challenge which needs immediate attention. The estimated daily demand for water in Lusaka alone is at 350 000 cubic meters but Lusaka water and sewerage company’s production is about 240 000 cubic meters. Most of the infrastructure the company is using has outlived its life span. Other challenges include increased pollution of water sources close to human settlements. This scenario is the same for all water utility companies providing service in the urban areas.
For a long time now, financing hasbeenone of the major obstacles in increasing access to adequate water and sanitation in Zambia because of the huge cost involved especially in establishing piped sewerage systems and waste water treatment plants for urban areas. Adequate investment for providing basic sanitation remains cardinal to see a turnaround of the current status of sanitation coverage in the country. It is therefore prudent that Government prioritizes water and sanitation on the National agenda. National access clearly may not be achieved immediately but there is need for demonstration that steps are being made towards this goal using available resources.
Although government has increased allocation to the water supply and sanitation sector to 555 billion Kwacha(a 28% increase from 2010) as outlined in the national budget for 2011, it is still inadequate to meet the current demand for water supply and basic sanitation .Accelerated access to water and sanitation needs a favourable enabling environment, especially for the participation of private sector and civil society (NGOs).NWASCO would like to call for tripartite partnerships (Government – private sector – civil society) for sustainable improved sanitation.
The government however has attempted to face up to the grim state of drinking water infrastructure, coupled with problems of surface and ground water pollution resulting from indiscriminate wastewater disposal. The government through NWASCO in 2003 set up a basket fund known as the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) aimed at accelerating service provision in peri urban areas. The DTF using the low cost kiosk technologies has to date provided water to approximately 836 000 people in peri urban communities in Lusaka, Southern, Western Copperbelt, Eastern, North-Western, Central and Northern provinces. Commercial Utilities so far have received to a tune of 70 billion Kwacha from the DTF. A colossal sum of 94 billion kwacha has so far been mobilized from Government, the European Union, DANIDA, and KFW from Germany.