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  • Richard

Supporting the $350m MCA Z Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage Project

June 2017 (and five subsequent visits), working as part of the ‘Cowater Technical Assistance team on the 'software' aspects of the USD$354 million Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage Project ( – a comprehensive approach which includes “infrastructure improvements for the intake/treatment plant, transmission lines, and the primary distribution network, along with specific interventions aimed at achieving reductions in unaccounted for or Non-Revenue Water (NRW); rehabilitation and expansion of certain water supply distribution lines; rehabilitation and expansion of certain sewer systems; and rehabilitation of specific drainage infrastructure.”

As 'Specialist on Service Management for the Poor', a title one or two of my Zambian colleagues wondered about, the initial focus was on understanding, and commenting on, the household level hardware aspects of Service provision and Access, in the context of Affordability, and Sustainability.

Zambia’s present GDP per person being $1,510

The particular focus of the pro-poor lower-income area services included constructing ‘water supply and sewerage network in both Mtendere and Mtendere East. This included laying about 60 km of water main supply lines and 82 km of sewer lines’.

Water pipes being laid …. Even though the ‘connection fee’ has been significantly, and very appropriately, reduced will very low-income households be able to afford the tapstand to go on the end of that coil of water pipe, picture below (bottom right hand corner) … not to mention the toilet as well?

Sewers being laid …. Are those pipes really at the correct depth? And although the MCA Z has done an impressive job in extending laterals into housing compounds who will commit to the approximately $1,000 cost of building a toilet and shower (though MCA Z have plans to assist the poorest landlords)?

With a target of 20,000 households, approximately 100,000 people, the challenge in Mtendere is to ensure that the expensive infrastructure actually delivers water and sewerage connections (not just the pipe networks) which are being used and paid for.

To avoid the challenge of leaving the people of Mtendere with a ‘constipated white elephant’ the TA had a fairly graphic slide show (more fun in the animated original showing Swaffield’s flush by flush movement of the shit down the pipe) reminding folk of how sewers get blocked, particularly if not enough water is being used to flush the faecal matter down the new sewer:

Needing to get a very large number of toilets built to standard and to minimum cost (less than the anticipated self-building through hiring masons & plumbers at $1,000 per unit) the TA explored the possibility of ‘Sewered SanPlats’ (crediting Brandberg for the original SanPlats of course).

These would be pre-cast concrete slabs which could be delivered as a pre-plumbed unit direct to each housing plot (one per household even?) for easy connection to the main contractor delivered inspection chamber. They would include the facility for direct grey water recovery along with potential to incorporate a tap stand – whilst allowing/requiring the household to construct the toilet and/or shower superstructure of their own choice in their own time. But there would be a functioning shit removal system in place in the meantime and allowing the sewer system to start receiving sufficient volumes of wastewater to maintain self-cleansing velocity etc.

Over the next couple of visits this work developed into the required ‘Position paper and advocacy plan on Pro-poor Tariffs and Affordable Connections for the Poor’ to assist Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company in the development of its own pro-poor understanding and policies. The strong starting point for LWSC was that it already has had, for a number of years, a ‘Peri-Urban Areas Department’ with excellent work going on with regard to improved services through enhanced water delivery kiosks and sanitation FSM services through the PUA based Water Trusts (supported by a number of donors, and WSUP, in addition to LWSC).

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