WaterAid began work in Zambia following a period of severe drought between 1992 and 1994. Our aim is to improve the lives of the country's poorest and most vulnerable communities by providing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
An unsafe water source in Zambia.
Credit: WaterAid / Jon Spaull
Despite having access to large fresh water resources, reducing rainfalls over the last 30 years have left much of the country extremely arid with little access to clean, safe water.
Poverty is increasing and health is deteriorating - 16% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS and malaria is rife. Life expectancy has dropped from 54 years in 1990 to just 37 years in 2007.
In 1994 WaterAid began working in the Southern province. This semi-arid region, with an average annual rainfall of just 70cm, suffers from water shortages and droughts. With few reliable water points, women and children have no choice but to walk miles every day to collect water from unprotected supplies.
This, coupled with the fact that only a small fraction of people in the province have access to latrines, means that preventable water and sanitation related diseases are rife.
WaterAid's achievements to date
- Worked with a range of organizations to improve the coordination of water and sanitation work at national and district levels
- Helped to introduce a wider range of sanitation options for poor communities while also working to put sanitation on the national agenda
- Developed local governments' capacity to carry out their new responsibilities providing water and sanitation in their areas
A WaterAid-funded well in Zambia.
Credit: WaterAid / Jon Spaull
Since 1994, WaterAid has expanded its operations to seven districts. Five of these are in the Southern Province (Monze, Siavonga, Namwala, Itezhitezhi and Kazungula) while the other two are Kafue in Lusaka Province and Kaoma in Western Province.
To ensure sustainability of all our projects WaterAid works with a network of local partners. We use only appropriate, low cost technologies and engage communities at all stages of projects to provide a sense of community ownership, pride and responsibility.
In 1995 WaterAid began working with the Department of Health in a program of hand-dug well and latrine building as well as community mobilization, education and training.
In 1996 the Government established a new water policy, known as WASHE (water, sanitation, hygiene education) calling for urban water services to be privatized and rural projects to be community owned and managed. It also stated that sanitation and hygiene promotion should be integrated with water projects.
The WASHE policy is put into practice by district committees called D-WASHE. WaterAid supports the WASHE concept and has been working to develop the skills and capacity of D-WASHE committees to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene education.
The most appropriate and affordable water technology has been hand-dug wells. However, with falling water tables, WaterAid and partners are now increasingly drilling boreholes at greater depths.
WaterAid is encouraging the use of composting latrines as one of a range of sanitation options in Zambia. By using human waste to create a renewable source of fertile compost, the impact on local agriculture, as well as health and hygiene is very beneficial.
In 2004 the Zambian government reaffirmed that local authorities are responsible for rural water supply with non governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector involved in implementing projects.
To support this change WaterAid now works with both local authorities and a range of partners including NGOs and small scale private contractors such as well technicians, latrine builders and pump mechanics who work directly with communities.
In the first instance, WaterAid and its partners adopted a 'model village' approach, ensuring everyone in one village gained access to safe water, sanitation and good hygiene. The 'model village' was then used as a showcase, in the hope that other communities would emulate the scheme. Although successful, this approach was slow and meant that only a small proportion of those in need were benefiting.
The more effective 'focus area' approach, where a wider area in a district is covered, reaches a large number of villages at the same time. This makes it easier to plan and monitor activities and provide support so that all villages gain equal benefits from the projects.
Download Zambia info sheet (PDF 434.40KB)
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