Attempts to reform the water sector in Zambia were carried out as early as 1976. Several obstacles hampered such processes and finally brought them to a hold. The main reason for failure in the previous attempts was that the proposals did not fit in the decentralization policy of the time. With a change in Government in 1991 and the introduction of the public service reform a new attempt was made to solve problems linked to Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS). The introduction of new economic policies to liberalise markets influenced the direction of the reform. These two points –general public service reforms and the liberalisation of the economy created a conducive environment for the sector reforms.
The first step in the implementation of the water sector reforms was the adoption of the National Water Policy with the seven sector principles. These served as the basis or guide during the entire reform process: The WSS sector shall be developed to improve the quality of life and productivity for all people by ensuring an equitable provision of an adequate quantity and quality of water and sanitation services at acceptable cost and on sustainable basis.
The Seven Sector Principles (National Water Policy, 1994)
1. Separation of WRM from WSS.
2. Separation of regulatory and executive functions within the water supply and sanitation sector.
3. Devolution of authority to LAs and private enterprises.
4. Full cost recovery in the long run.
5. Human resource development leading to more effective institutions.
6. Technologies appropriate to local conditions.
7. Increased funding by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ).