As one of the fastest-growing cities in Southern Africa, the Zambian capital Lusaka faces numerous threats to its water security. This is especially the case for low-income areas, where mere access to water remains a challenge. One such area is George Compound, a peri-urban community of 200,000 residents located in the Western part of Lusaka. Many residents fetch their water at public kiosks, serviced by the local utility company’s wellfields. However, some residents still fetch it from contaminated or heavily polluted shallow wells.
To address this problem, the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LWSC) implemented a water supply improvement project in George compound and the surrounding industrial area. The project was financed by Zambian Breweries (ZB) at a cost of 150,000$. It involved the drilling of a borehole and the installation of a 3.4km pipeline to George compound.
Over 40,000 community members will benefit from this collective action, implemented under the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) partnership. Additionally, it will also serve as a COVID-19 prevention measure, as it provides reliable access to water and hence makes e.g. regular hand-washing possible.
The Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, Honorable Rapheal Nakachinda, commissioned the project infrastructure on March 19th, 2021. NatuReS Zambia as partners of LuWSI facilitate and promote such collective action in order to manage natural resources for sustainable growth and better livelihoods.
The NatuReS programme Uganda supported the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association (UMA) in hosting a first breakfast meeting on Friday, the 26th of March 2021, as part of the Uganda Water & Environment Week 2021. This annual weeklong event provides a platform for sector actors and other stakeholders to network, exchange knowledge and build working relationships.
The meeting aim was to create a platform of cooperation for the Ministry of Water & Environment and the Ugandan private sector, represented by UMA. Both are interested in fostering a working relationship. Consulting on issues of mutual interest and of relevance for natural resources stewardship will be an important part.
High-level decision-makers from the public sector and chief executives from the private sector participated, among which the chairperson of UMA, the Commissioner for Water Resources Planning & Regulation at the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Country CEO of Hima Cement Ltd., representatives from Steel and Tube Industries Ltd., Brittania Allied Industries, and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.
Environmental threats affecting both business operations and the public
Discussions focused on water and environment security in private sector operations. Frequent flash floods threaten e.g. industrial areas, namely Namanve, Ntinda and Bugolobi. They pose both an environmental threat and have a detrimental effect on business operations, as machinery can be damaged or access roads get blocked. For instance, recently employees at Namanve Industrial Park were blocked in their workstations due to floods having swallowed up the outgoing streets. Consequently, factories like Hima Cement Ltd. have embarked on improving drainage systems at their own costs within their boundaries.
Participants also discussed water pollution, another environmental threat affecting the private sector. For example, Jesa Farm Dairies, Uganda’s leading dairy processing company, extracts water for their operations from the River Mayanja. However, it is increasingly polluted. Therefore, Jesa increased its investments in water treatment to ensure availability of clean water for their operations.
Cooperation is key
The public sector is open to partner with the private sector in reducing water and environmental risks. During the event, participants long discussed ideas to leverage actions. Among others, they agreed to establish a roadmap for continuous engagement between stakeholders who are affected by and affect water resources and the environment.
In the end, participants agreed on a follow-up meeting at the Ministry to concretize their ideas. Also, similar meetings between private and public sector are now set to occur annually during Uganda Water & Environment Week.
Natural Resources Stewardship requires the continuous engagement of stakeholders from all different walks of life. Since its establishment in 2018, Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership (PLH) brings together stakeholders from the private, the public sector and civil society. PLH aims to safeguard Lake Hawassa’s ecosystem and to ensure sustainable economic growth in Hawassa City and its catchment.
In order to discuss PLH’s long-term strategic direction, monitor undertaken activities and evaluate the partnership’s progress, regular meetings are held. From 10 to 12 March 2021, all partners hence came together for the partnership’s bi-annual steering committee meeting. This represented also the quarterly taskforce meeting on Solid Waste Management and Afforestation and Soil Erosion Control (ASEC).
During the meeting, Professor Mulugeta from Hawassa University gave an update on the ecohydrological approach to soil erosion control the partnership has embarked on. This approach, introduced by Hawassa University with the support of GIZ-NatuReS, aims to transform gullies back into productive land.
The ecohydrological approach consists in using natural materials and slim structures for soil erosion control which do not impede farming practices. This makes it a preferable alternative to the conventional method of stone and iron gabions. The approach gained a lot of support from local farmers, many of whom are showing interest to apply similar interventions on their land. Learning from the good experience, the ecohydrological approach has also been adopted by a neighboring district.
The active participation of the task force members plays an important role in building a strong partnership. The meeting concluded with the participants’ agreement to further strengthen PLH through continued commitment, collaboration and communication.
“Wash your hands” has become one of the most used phrases during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to reduce the risk of infectious diseases has become a well-established fact and is even more emphasized since the outbreak of the pandemic.
However, access to potable water is a long-standing challenge for the city of Hawassa with its more than 300.000 inhabitants in central Ethiopia. To improve access to WASH services and minimize the risk of a Covid-19 infection, NatuReS and PVH supported the Hawassa Water Supply and Sewerage Service Enterprise (HWSSSE) with two submersible, one surface pump and corresponding accessories worth approx. 85.000 euros.
A ceremony to hand over the equipment was held on February 10th, 2021, attended by high government officials, including Dr. Beshah Behailu, Commissioner at the Water Development Commission, and Prof. Tsegaye Tuke, Deputy Mayor of Hawassa City. Representatives from Sidama regional government as well as from different media were present.
During the ceremony, several representatives underlined the importance of NatuReS’ and PVH’s support to improve water access in Hawassa city. The city administration moreover pledged to provide additional resources to ensure the operationality and maintenance of the pumps in the future. The pumps will improve water supply service for about 81,000 residents of Hawassa City.