Congratulations to MCA Z and their contractors for the successful refurbishment, capital maintenance, of the Kaunda Square wastewater treatment ponds, now ready to accept the new effluent from Mtendere’s new sewers later in the year. Hoping that the connections will be made at scale to ensure the necessary self-cleansing of the new sewers etc .... and that low-income households will benefit from the very significant costs, recognising the generosity of the American people in funding the CapEx. Though, noting an earlier post, there is not alternative if we, the outsiders, want improved urban water and sanitation ahead of the socio-economic-institutional development trend-line (and apologies, what a mouthful that is!).
Thinking further about costs and financing, over these months I’ve been playing with some of the numbers regarding services in Lusaka relative to costs and population projections ….
It appears from the new project info that it looks like costing $312m to get from approx. 35% household connections service to 46% 'piped on premises' after LWSSD and Chinese projects; and $461m to get from present 41% improved sanitation to 54% at the end of LWSSDP & LSP projects; that is by serving an approximate additional 250,000 people with both improved services; which, frustratingly, also represents just three years population growth, the length of the projects implementation periods as it happens - so therefore no likely increase in service coverage at all?
And this in a city which demographers project, with some confidence, will grow from present 2m approx to 7m in 2050 … and an amazing 37m in 2100. Interesting or just scary! Especially when we see the average present all-in project costs of meeting the improved service standards are about $1,500 per person for piped on premises water, another $1,500 for improved sanitation (sewerage+emptiable pit mix)- & this when the MCAZ funded Master Plans appear to have used an estimate of just $250 per person for each.
And those numbers assume significantly greater take up of connections (>50%) than the 3% that the most recent previous project, the World Bank funded Kalingalinga condominial sewerage achieved).
All this suggesting therefore that LWSC needs about $240m investment per year, each and every year, just to keep up with population growth, on top of the additional $2 billion approx needed ‘now’ to reach the desired service coverage for all (80% in the Master Plans), not to mention the capital maintenance expenditure investment required on the existing assets….. quite a challenge.
And this with present sewerage tariff being 30% of the water tariff - when anything like cost reflectivity requires 100% of water, and this with water tariff being half what it should be,
NWASCO/LWSC reportedly using historical cost accounting so no valid depreciation/capital maintenance charging. So the sewerage tariff needs to increase by a factor of SIX …….. ?? (OK, perhaps five times with the reapportioning of costs between water and sanitation).