The African Development Bank (AfDB) is administering a US$35 million fund earmarked for improving water distribution, billing and revenue collection in Zimbabwe.
BY MUSA DUBE
The “Non-Revenue Water” (NRW), which is the difference between the amount of water put into the distribution system and the amount of water billed to consumers — is reportedly averaging 50% in most cities and towns in the country.
Speaking in Bulawayo last week, Water and Sanitation Engineer for the Zim Fund Project, Herbert Nyakutsikwa said one of the major challenges facing local authorities in the country was the large proportion of water lost in the distribution networks.
Nyakutsikwa said a lot of treated water was currently being lost, leading to the water utilities losing a substantial amount of revenue.
He said AfDB was administering a US$35 million fund earmarked for improving the water distribution management system in the country.
“In support of this effort to reduce NRW, the AfDB is administering funding for the second phase of the Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation Project (UWSSRP) with a total fund of US$ 35,99 million from multi donor trust fund [Zim-Fund] which has been running since 2010,” said Nyakutsikwa
He said this phase was formulated to further the benefits and impacts of the first phase of the UWSSRP and include aspects not included in the first phase of the project.
“The proposed second phase project is being implemented in Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Redcliff serving an estimated population of 1,9 million people. The project aims to protect public health through the improvement of service, preservation of physical assets, resuscitating capacity and improving financial sustainability of the water and sanitation service providers,” said the official.
He said chronic water losses have been the hallmark of urban Zimbabwe’s water management over the decades, as witnessed by the many visible permanent and temporary leaks all over the towns and cities.
“This may not have mattered much during an era of assumed plenty but the rapid growth of Zimbabwe’s cities has meant that there is much less water to go around now in the urban centres. Reducing these water losses is critical to efficient resource utilisation and water utility management, enhanced consumer satisfaction, and postponement of capital-intensive additions to capacity,” said Nyakutsikwa.
He said most cities in the country were facing critical water shortages.
“Facing ever-increasing urban populations and expanding service areas, many water utilities continue to struggle with providing clean drinking water to their consumers. Common water supply problems in our cities and towns are related to the sources and use of raw water, intermittent supply, and the quality of tap water at the consumer’s end,” said Nyakutsikwa.
He said most water utilities do not have adequate monitoring systems for assessing water losses.
“The result is that data on NRW is usually not readily available. Even when data is available, it is not always reliable, as some poorly performing utilities may practise “window dressing” in an attempt to conceal the extent of their own inefficiency,” said Nyakutsikwa.
He said there was need to improve the water infrastructure and reduce the water losses.
“The desired reduction in NRW is to have it below 20%. However, the vast majority of local authorities are not engaging in serious and professional NRW management,” he said.
He bemoaned the infrastructure, which in most cases still remains in a poor state, unable to provide adequate water to the population and posing a threat of the return of the dreaded water-borne diseases.