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  • Peter at Works
  • Pay Point
  • Susan at the works
  • Water treatment works
  • Water treatment works

Zambia 2013 Day 4

Last night, the local WaterAid rep took us to a restaurant in Livingstone where we were staying. There were eight of us and we ordered 8 pizzas and some chicken wings. We were enjoying having a chat about our adventures and only realised after one and a half hours that no food had arrived. One pizza did then arrive so we thought all was well until the waitress told us that the chef could only cook one pizza at a time! We had to share the pizza and in short, after another hour and a half we had only had 4 pizzas. We gave up, but there was no anger or frustration from any of us because we knew we were still a million times better off than most of the villagers that we had met that day.

The next morning, another 5.45 am start, I got up and felt a bit like Harry Hill with my neck squashed down into my shoulders - the 20 kg load on my head from yesterday was now taking effect! We travelled just outside Livingstone to the main treatment works supplying this large Urban town with about 250, 000 inhabitants. The water company was called Southern Water and Sewerage company (no link to UK) and the treatment works was a traditional works with a 7km pumped raw water supply from the Zambeze, clarifiers with Alum dosing, rapid gravity filters and finally chlorine dosing and a storage tank.

We met Susan the production supervisor, who ran the works with 10 members of staff who covered sampling, maintenance and operation. The works needed this number of staff as there was very little automation. The works did not supply everyone in the town because there were still many areas that were not connected. 34,000m3 per day was produced. The works ran well but I was shocked at the lack of Health and Safety controls. We were invited to walk around a wall head on the clarifies which had no handrail on one side and 4m deep open water!

Also, the chlorine gas was in 900kg drums which were open to the environment and Susan walked in to show us how it worked. We declined to follow her and I asked if they had any leaks. She said it happened regularly and if it was a problem with the drum they would lift the drum and drop it into an old tank which was full of water! Time to go!

We met the senior manager for SWASCO who informed us that the company was formed when the eleven councils in the region transferred the assets they had to SWASCO, each council owning shares to the value of their assets. They had a board structure with a govt appointed chairman, two independents, a business customer and two council reps representing the shareholders. The tariff was set very low by the Government to be affordable and to drive efficiency by the company (sounds familiar) who were only just breaking even. There was also a tiered tariff structure that kept costs very low for the poor areas by subsidies from a high tariff for the affluent customers.

36,000 Customers were given a hand delivered bill and had to go to the treatment works where there was a pay point.

We then set of on a mammoth journey of around 500 km, which was only broken by a visit to the district commissioner in Monze. She was appointed by the president of Zambia and she expressed how happy she was to work in partnership with WaterAid to face the challenges in her area. She had lunch with us and demonstrated the Zambian way of eating a Zambeze bream fish head-with no waste! I stuck to the chicken!

The last 250 km was tough, on extremely bad roads and a narrow escape when some cattle shot across the road in front of the vehicles. The last trip tomorrow to a local school and a peri-urban slum with real challenges in water and sanitation.

Twaloomba and Twaunka (Thank you and Goodbye)

  • Baby
  • Child carrying water
  • Group of children
  • Children with water bags
  • Water pump - funded by WaterAid Zambia