Zambia – Urban water supply and sanitation programme (NUWSSP) is being developed.
Zambia: Water Programmes to Rid Water-Borne Diseases
THE rainy seasoning is apparently bidding farewell, so is cholera-the unwelcome annual waterborne disease every rainy season.
Clearly, a long-term solution has to be found to this perennial problem and that solution lies in long-term and adequate investment in water supply and sanitation infrastructure.
The Government has already started the process of dealing with perennial waterborne diseases on a long-term basis through the development of the national rural water supply and sanitation programme (NRWSSP) to address these problems in rural areas.
For urban areas, a comprehensive national urban water supply and sanitation programme (NUWSSP) is being developed.
Both the NRWSSP and the NUWSSP are being implemented through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) under the department of housing and infrastructure development (DHID).
DHID is the former department of infrastructure and support services (DISS) under which both the urban and rural water sections fall.
The Government is now building the required capacity to effectively and sufficiently improve access to clean and reliable water supply and sanitation (WSS) facilities and services through the NRWSSP and the NUWSSP which are national road maps for the WSS sector.
To enhance capacity in the management of the NRWSSP, structures are being put in place from national to grassroots levels in line with the requirement of implementing this programme on decentralisation principles.
It is therefore encouraging that area development committees (ADCs), which are sub-district structures, are being established in line with the decentralisation policy to facilitate community participation.
The ADCs are supposed to mobilise and sensitise communities so that they actively participate in initiating and implementing programmes, such as the NRWSSP, for their own benefit.
For instance, communities are supposed to participate in assessing the WSS situation in their own areas, participate in the allocation of water points to be constructed in their districts, ensure that the selected sites for construction of water points can be accessed using big drilling machines, mobilise each other to contribute towards the construction of water points and also operate and maintain the WWS facilities.
According to the NRWSSP community contribution towards the construction of water points is K1,500,000 per water point and each water point is estimated to carter for 250 people within a distance of 500 metres.
This means that if each person contributes K6,000 or each household contributes K42,000, the community would be able to raise the required contribution.
This contribution is insignificant compared to huge resources in terms of time and money spent on caring for and treating people suffering from waterborne-related diseases.
A good number of communities appreciate this valuable investment in their good health and living conditions and are already contributing towards the construction of boreholes in provinces such as Southern and Western provinces.
Communities that have not yet contributed should do so to facilitate the provision of clean and safe drinking water.
Community contribution towards infrastructure development is not new as it has been done under various projects where communities have contributed building sand, blocks and labour towards construction of schools and clinics.
However, because of the technical nature of constructing water points, communities are instead asked to provide a token in form of money as a demonstration of community ownership of the facilities.
At district level, each council is supposed to create a rural water supply and sanitation (RWSS) section within the council structure and recruit a focal point person to co-ordinate the implementation of the NRWSSP.
The MLGH has already written to the 63 districts being covered by the NRWSSP to establish RWSS Sections and some of them have already approved that structure and have advertised for the jobs, while others have already recruited.
This measure is expected to improve co-ordination and efficiency in the implementation of the NRWSSP, thereby improving access to clean and safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
Being a national programme that is supposed to deliver 10,000 water points and about 700,000 household latrines by 2015, the NRWSSP requires a fully fledged national structure in order to meet this national commitment.
Being alive to this fact, the Government is also establishing programme support teams (PSTs) in all the nine provinces to co-ordinate and oversee the implementation of the programme.
The MLGH has already written to all the provincial permanent secretaries requesting them to identify and second officers who will head the PSTs. So far, there are four PSTs spearheading the implementation of the programme in Luapula, Northern, and Western Provinces while the fourth one covers Lusaka and Southern Provinces.
While the PSTs will comprise technical advisors, they will be managed by a Government officer to promote Government responsibility, ownership and leadership in the implementation of the NRWSSP.
The ultimate goal of the NRWSSP is increased proportion of rural population with access to clean and safe water from 37 per cent in 2006 to 55 per cent in 2010 and 75 per cent by mid 2015.
It also aims at providing increased access to improved sanitation facilities from less than 13 per cent in 2006 to 33 per cent by 2010 and 60 per cent by 2015.
This is supposed to result in reduced cases of water-borne diseases by 30 per cent by 2015 and therefore improved health and poverty alleviation as individuals, households and the Government will spend their resources in terms of efforts, time and money on productive and income generating activities rather than on medical expenses and containing perennial outbreaks of water borne diseases such as cholera.
To achieve this national vision, in addition to putting in place these programme management structures, it is envisaged that there will be gradual increment of the proportion of the budgetary allocation to the water supply and sanitation sector in the national budget from 1.2 per cent to eight per cent by 2010.