The African Water Facility reported on the 22nd of December 2023 that it has approved a €830,000 grant which will go towards the preparation of a Lusaka City Water Supply Improvement Project in Zambia. The project will involve undertaking a feasibility study, detailed designs, and all relevant activities required to prepare a bankable investment project in Lusaka city. The city is facing increased water demand, due largely to a rate of urban growth, which is one of the highest in the e world: for instance, the city’s urban population grew by 4,35% during 2023.
Lusaka draws some 42% of its water from the Kafue River, 65 kilometres from the city and 200m in elevation below it. Waterworks with a supply capacity of 110 000m³/day were constructed in the 1970’s, consisting of an intake at Kafue River, a high lift pumping station, and a rising main through which water is pumped to the capital. The rest of the water is supplied through boreholes: Lusaka lies on a plateau, under which there is a productive aquifer system which is also highly vulnerable to contamination. Many suburbs such as the George Compound, are densely populated and feature a high prevalence of pit latrines. In combination with leaking sewerage discharges, this leads to the degradation of the quality of groundwater.
In the period between 2013 and 2018, the Millennium Challenge Corporation funded a U.S. $ 293 million project to rehabilitate and extend infrastructure and strengthen the institutional capacity of Lusaka’s municipal government responsible for drainage and the local water and sanitation utility. However, although an additional 12,500 customers were added to the customer base of the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company, maintenance of infrastructure has reportedly not improved and challenges remain.
The current project financed by the African Water Facility aims to increase access to safe, sustainable, and inclusive water supply and infrastructure in urban areas. It also aims to create opportunities for increased investment in the country’s water sector.
The feasibility study and design will aid the preparation of an investment blueprint to address the water demands in Lusaka and tackle the old and deteriorating water infrastructure. It will support the preparation of downstream financing for the project which is expected to benefit over 4 million people including the urban poor who constitute about 60% of the urban population.
Commenting on the approval, Mtchera Chirwa, African Water Facility’s coordinator said, “This grant will assist the Government of Zambia to prepare a bankable investment project to develop resilient water infrastructure and improve the efficiency of service delivery. It will further address Green House Gas emissions in the development of water infrastructure, contributing to climate change mitigation.”
The project is co-financed by the Middle-Income Technical Assistance Fund (€432,946.50) and the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (€ 247,418). It is expected to commence in January 2024 and be implemented over a duration of 18 months.