Monday, 30 April 2012


By Ben Kangwa
While in the last 20 years, Zambia has undertaken various policy and institutional reforms in the water sector, challenges such as, old and inadequate infrastructure, lack of connection networks, intermittent water delivery and the poor performance of utilities still remain in Lusaka.
Further, the capacity of water supply and sanitation service  provision  has  been  stretched  by  a rapid population growth of more than one  million.
On 22nd March, 2012, the United States Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a bilateral United States foreign aid agency  established  in  2004  approved a US$354.8 million Compact with Zambia.
The Board of  Directors’  decision  was  arrived  at  its quarterly meeting chaired by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to lay the foundation for systematic and lasting change in Lusaka’s water, sanitation and drainage sector, a critical constraint to economic growth in the country.
On May 10, 2012, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Zambian government are scheduled to sign the US$354.8 million five year Compact.
It is expected that through the Compact, the Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage (LWSSD) project will provide Lusaka residents greater access to water and better water supply, sanitation and drainage services by extending and improving select water supply and sanitation and through an improved drainage networks, lower flooding.
Speaking in Washington DC in April, 2012, when he met the  MCC  Vice President – Department of Compact Operations Patrick Fine and Andrew Mayock, Deputy Vice President for Compact Operations for East and Southern Africa, Minister of Finance and national Planning Alexander Chikwanda thanked MCC and the United States government for this gesture.
He said, “The Compact will be the single largest investment in the water sector in Zambia since independence.
I also wish to thank the MCC for the technical and financial support that was rendered during the preparation of the Compact.”
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provided US$15 million to conduct studies as well as for start up costs for the Accountable entity.
Mr Chikwanda said he was aware that there will be more work to be done after the signing of the Compact.
Some of the critical work to be done will include the preparation of detailed design studies for the sub-projects which is expected to be completed in mid June 2012. Thereafter, the procurement of the contractors is expected to take another estimated six months to be completed. The actual construction is expected to begin in early 2014.
“As Government, we are looking forward to the implementation of this project because the existing water and sanitation infrastructure in Lusaka is old and the capacity has been overwhelmed by the rapid growth of  over  two million compared to 134,000 at independence,” he added.
He noted that the programme only covers Lusaka Province and that the intention of the Government was to leverage for more financing to roll-out the programme to all parts of the country.
Against this background, the Minister said the support of the American Government would be most welcome, especially as the United States continues to lead the world in providing development aid even in the face of the austerity measures in almost all high income economies.
Mr. Chikwanda also assured MCC of the Government’s strong commitment to good governance, particularly the control of corruption, ensuring voice and accountability, civil liberties and maintenance of a conducive economic environment for business.
He stressed that Government would set aside funds for sewer connections for poor households and maintenance of drains in order to ensure that the Conditions Precedent in the Compact were met.
Earlier, MCC Vice President for MCC’s Department of Compact Operations Patrick Fine said his organization was looking forward to working with Zambia in this partnership with excitement.
He noted that Zambia would be the 24th country that his organization would be working with in this partnership but warned that a great deal of work lay ahead if everything envisaged in the Compact was to be completed on time.
“We are very happy with the relationship we have with the new government and we hope that there will be no hitches to the programme,” he said.
The Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and drainage (LWSSD) project is indeed a large and complex project with many components. MCC’s project selection criteria is anchored on sub-projects that are technically sound, yield an economic rate of return of 10 per cent,  can be implemented within five years and are sustainable in the long term.
MCC supported the development of Investment Plans for water supply and sanitation covering Lusaka Province, as well as a priority drainage investment plan for flood prone areas in the City of Lusaka. This is the framework under which the proposed investments in the LWSSD infrastructure development will take place.
According to the Millennium Challenge Account-Zambia website, the investment plans under the LWSSD project have a 25 year design horizon through to 2035.
The interventions are divided into short-term, medium term and long term projects. Short-term projects are priorities up to 2015 while the long-term projects will extend up to 2035.
In late March 2012, at a town hall meeting held at the MCC building in Washington DC, Millennium Challenge Corporation  (MCC) Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yohannes said in announcing the decision by the Board of Directors,” We congratulate the Zambian people and the Government of Zambia. MCC investments are expected to have a meaningful impact on the lives of more than one million Lusaka residents by improving their health and economic productivity and helping the country reduce poverty on a sustainable basis by enhancing water security.”
Zambia’s  Ambassador to the United States,  Mrs Sheila Siwela  noted that the signing of the Compact facility was  very exciting news. This, she said, was indeed a joyous move and a manifestation of the USA government’s approval of Zambia’s policies.
She added,” It is my hope that more collaborations of similar nature will be forthcoming to Zambia. I am proud that Zambia is a recipient of this funding.”
In Lusaka, US Ambassador to Zambia, Ambassador Mark Storella added his voice, “ I congratulate the people and government of Zambia for becoming one among a select group of countries to gain MCC approval for an MCC Compact partnership.
Reliable water sanitation and drainage systems are vital components for sustainable development and while mostly underground and largely invisible to the casual observer, will improve the health of Zambians, catalyze economic growth and continue to reduce poverty.”
Ambassador Storella concluded,” Together, we have engaged with multiple stakeholders in intensive negotiations, consultations and project development to achieve the five year US$354.8 million Compact agreement with Zambia.”
It is therefore not surprising that a cross section of residents in Lusaka recently shared their thoughts on the impact of improved water supply, sanitation and drainage and reflected on how it affected their lives in the Millennium Challenge Account – Zambia quarterly magazine  for February – April 2012 as follows
“I live in an area where intermittently we have sewer blockages. Perhaps the system has outlived its design period. I look at the improvements in residential housing in Lusaka; there are more people residing on single plots, which possibly implies that the system needs to be upgraded. Residential houses are wall-fenced without the control of storm run-off, and that is one of the causes of occasional flooding in the city. There are some well-planned areas that are not connected to the sewer network. The impact of that is that in the long-term we will damage our ground-water sources. We have good limestone aquifers in Lusaka, and if we contaminate these aquifers we are likely to disturb the potential source of water, which is ground water,” said Humble Sibooli who is Technical Support Manager at Water Aid Zambia.
Social economist at Zulu Burrow, Muze Balasi noted,“I might be privileged to have running water and a good sewer system but not all of my family members are as privileged as I. I’ve been to most of the peri-urban areas of Lusaka, and the problem of flooding is unimaginable. The government is doing the best they can but the efforts need to be doubled, even tripled. In fact, we should all double our efforts, in our own fields, and I think we can all play a part in educating people – educating people about hygiene and sanitation. We can do a lot by educating people because that is where it starts.”
Dr. Maria Akani, a Registrar at Chainama Hospital observed,“There are many diseases that people can contract from water, even things like Hepatitis C, and many people don’t know that. In Zambia, one thing that affects child health are diarrhoeal diseases because they compromise the nutrition of the child and it’s difficult to control; their condition is made worse because of diarrhoeal diseases. In places where there is not good water supply or sanitation, where there are no proper toilets, it’s a big challenge for the health sector, and we are still struggling with high infant mortality rates and child deaths. As a health professional, I know if we can deal with water – generally – we will be able to overcome a lot of challenges.”
National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) Director, Kelvin Chitumbo was quoted as saying, “Currently, the situation is one where every person who builds a house puts up their own septic tank, whereas we should have a situation where most of the areas are connected to the main sewer system. But we also have a situation where there has not been enough coordination between the planning authorities and the service provider to an extent where people have built houses and then they go to the utility company for services; it should be the other way around. With a project such as this, I hope it will enhance coordination, enhance planning and service delivery and establish strong links between stakeholders that provide services. We should strengthen that cord.”
George Ndongwe, Managing Director, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company said,“If there were improved water supply, it would relieve us as a utility company. At the moment, we spend most of our time grappling with inadequate water supplies for our people [customers]. If it were improved, we might have more time to spend giving better service to customers, making their experience more pleasant. On a personal note, I get affected when I see that people have died on account of not having access to a good water supply; it’s unnecessary suffering, it shouldn’t happen.”
With the afore said, access to water, sanitation and hygiene will certainly improve the livelihoods and well being of the general populace of Lusaka urban and per-urban residents. Clean water and adequate sanitation will lead to improvements in health, school attendance, productivity and entrepreneurship.
The writer is Press Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Washington, DC.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has donated two vehicles to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for use in North Western and Eastern provincial medical offices respectively.
WHO Country Representative Olusegun Babaniyi said the donated vehicles are aimed at helping in the sensitization and disease surveillance activities of vaccine preventable diseases.
Dr. Babaniyi said the country’s polio and measles immunization programmes are well established with national immunization coverage rate for all vaccines above 80 percent contributing to the reduction of child mortality in the country.
He has further stated that the gesture has come at the right time as the African region is celebrating the world immunization week from 21 to 28th April 2012 under the theme ‘an unimmunized child is one too many.’
Dr. Babaniyi noted that the focus of the vaccination week is on strengthening national immunization programme in the countries by rising community awareness on value and importance of immunization so as to create demand from the community.
He added that the continuous attack on babies by measles in Zambia has prompted the Ministry of Health in partnership with WHO to prepare for a country wide campaign in July 2012 to protect more children between 6 months and 15 years by giving them measles vaccination.
Dr. Babaniyi further thanked the Zambian government for adopting the strategies for polio eradication and elimination of measles that have been implemented over the past years.
And speaking at the same event Eastern Province Provincial Medical Coordinator Kennedy Malama thanked WHO for the donation.
Dr. Malama said the vehicles will help in surveillance which is one of the four strategies for polio eradication and elimination of measles as it remains the bedrock strategy which provides evidence that there are no wild polio measles viruses circulating in the country.
He has further assured WHO that the two provinces will make sure that the vehicles are used for their intended purposes.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Chisha Mutale in Angola
SADC Ministers in the area of Health and Labour yesterday held a joint meeting on the dimensions of TB among mine workers and other mobile populations in the region.
Information, Broadcasting and Labour Minister was among other ministers in the region that attended the joint meeting.
Health Deputy Minister Patrick Chikusu who was also present at the meeting called upon SADC Ministers in the Health and Labour sector to develop programmes that will reduce on the misdiagnosis of TB and silicosis.
He said there was need for such interventions to be extended to the quarry sector and not just limiting it to the mining industry.
Dr Chikusu said Zambia had many women who are exposed to silica through the cutting of stones.
He said such groups should be identified so that they can be exposed to radiological examinations.
Dr Chikusu said such examinations would allow for the easy picking up the disease much earlier for treatment and prevention.
And Tanzanian Deputy Health Minister Lucy Nkya called upon the integration of some Ministries in countries of the SADC region in order to effectively tackle the problem of TB.
Ms Nkya said the integration of ministries would create a comprehensive approach on how to look at mining as far as TB is concerned.
Meanwhile Information, Broadcasting and Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda and other ministers from the SADC region took a tour of some economic zones in Angola.
During the tour M. Shamenda said the SADC region was lucky to have a country like Angola that was setting the pace in terms of economic development.
Mr Shamenda said such economic zones would contribute to the region becoming self-sufficient.
He said it would also bring about specialisation in the region thereby creating wealth.
Mr Shamenda hope that such economic ventures could be extended to other member states in the region.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Zambia has continued to record a steady decline in the spread of the HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) due to an increase in access to quality interventions.
And the country has also continued to record significantly attained progress at all levels of HIV/AIDS interventions particularly in diagnosis, treatment and care.
According to the Ministry of Health’s National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) of 2011 to 2016, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the adult population has declined from 16. %1 in 2002 to14.3% as of 2007.
The National Health Strategic Plan which was released by Health Minister Joseph Kasonde in Lusaka recently further indicates that an estimated 16.1 % females and 12.3 % males are infected with HIV in both urban and rural area.
The urban areas have however continued to have higher HIV prevalence of about 20% as compared to the rural areas which are recording a prevalence of about 10%.
Moreover,(NHSP also indicates that new HIV infections are projected to increase from an estimated 67,602 adults in 2006 to 72,019 in the year 2015 translating into approximately 185 new HIV infections every day.
Out of these daily HIV infections, an estimated 10% of HIV transmission is from parent to child mostly occurring during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
In the five year plan, Government has since put up strong measures to scale up interventions particularly in Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT, Abstinence, Be Faithful and Condom Use (ABC) Strategies, Male Circumcision (MC), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTC) Among Others.
Currently over 900,000 Zambians are living with HIV and over 250,000 are receiving Anti Retro Therapy (ART).