21 April 2003

Zambia: 'Gov't Has Failed to Deliver Acceptable Water Levels'

Lusaka — ZAMBIA has increasingly been failing to deliver acceptable levels of water supply and sanitation services, Minister of Local Government and Housing Sylvia Masebo has said.

Speaking during a Multi-Stakeholder Consultative forum in Lusaka last week, Masebo said despite implementing reform programmes in the sector Zambia still lagged behind in delivering the services in respective areas.

"Despite some reform programmes, Zambia has been increasingly failing to deliver acceptable levels of water supply and sanitation services to rural, peri-urban and urban communities," she said.

She said the performance had been constrained by many problems that included slow rates of increase in coverage, decline in national investment to the sector, poor planning and co-ordinating among stakeholders. This was mainly due to insufficient definition of the roles and responsibilities in the sector.

Masebo said the ministry had thus been engaged in consultations with various partners as a way of solving the problem. She said it was evidenced that if strong co-ordination existed, sustainable achievement could be attained due to the promotion of dialogue among stakeholders.

She recognised sharing of experiences, strengthening data collection and information systems as elements that would help to the greater benefit of the population. She noted that despite the problems in the water sector, the reforms had brought about major changes that were embodied in the national water policy and supported by the water supply and sanitation Act 19 of 1997. Masebo added that Water supply, Sanitation, and Health/Hygiene Education (WASHE) strategy was a people centered, intersectoral and an integrated approach to planning, implementation and management of water supply, sanitation and Hygiene promotion initiatives. She explained that WASHE encouraged a participatory approach, mutual commitment and collective responsibility.

It also promoted corporation with other stakeholders and was based on development, planning and management of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS).

She said WASHE tried to ensure that available resources were put to good use so that it worked hand in hand with the community and the government in achieving development.

"It also advocates the maximum utilisation of available resources and promotes the decentralisation process so that communities take up much of the responsibilities while the government played a facilitating role," she said. Masebo said the WASHE concept emphasised on the community management and partnership between the community and the supporting agencies.

She said the stance called for enhancement of capacities of people in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance.

This also called for communities and individuals to be innovative and creative and that, they assumed responsibility by maximising their potential for development. She further said government had approved the transitional National Development Plan as an implementation strategy for the poverty reduction strategies.

Masebo said there was need therefore for concerted efforts in order to improve the quality of life of all Zambians through the spirit of collaboration in making water flow for all Zambians.

And local government deputy minister Guston Sichilima has warned of stern action against bus operators who would refuse to start operating from Inter-City bus terminus. Sichilima closed Euro Africa, Max Motorways and White Horse bus stations for poor sanitation.

However, a check yesterday revealed that Max Motor ways, White Horse and Euro Africa stations were still operating at their stations.

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