World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It’s a day set aside to highlight and remind us of the value that rivers bring to support life, encouraging improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. The World River’s Day Celebration in Zambia was held on the 26th of September 2022 at the source of the mighty Zambezi River in Ikelenge district, in the Northwestern part of the country. The theme of this year’s celebration was “The importance of Rivers for Biodiversity. “
In the key note speech read on behalf of the Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Ikelenge constituency Hon. Elijah Muchima, highlighted the significant role rivers play for our livelihoods. He bemoaned the degradation of rivers and freshwater ecosystems due to unregulated and overuse of water, pollution, river bank cultivation and deforestation, causing erosion and siltation of river beds. He emphasized the Zambian government’s commitment to champion policy reforms and strengthen leadership in the management of water resources, including the restoration of the Zambezi source landscape.
In light of this commitment, the Provincial Minister of North-Western Province, Honorable Robert Lihefu MP, launched the Zambezi Source Ecosystem Restoration Project at the same event. The project, which will be implemented in collaboration with WWF, Stanbic Bank, GIZ’s NatuReS Programme, the Forestry Department and the National Heritage Commission, seeks to improve natural resources management in the Zambezi Headwaters area. Partners aim for restoring the ecosystem to a condition representative of the native ecosystem. They will also support alternative livelihoods for the local communities.
The Managing Director and CEO of Stanbic Bank Zambia PLC, Mr. Mwindwa Siakalima, stressed the need to preserve the health of the river and pledged to continue supporting the efforts to restore the ecosystem at the source. Additionally, the Country Director of WWF, Ms. Nachila Nkhombo, urged government to take steps to legally protect the area and commended the traditional leadership for the their support in protecting the Zambezi source.
The celebration ended with a tree planting activity at the Zambezi Source, led by Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i.
NatuReS is part of the initiative to protect the Zambezi River, as the degradation of the Zambezi River source has the potential to affect everyone, and no single actor can improve water security by working alone. Different capacities are required to prevent water insecurity. Only by partnering across sectors can the Zambezi River be protected in the long run.
Safe learning environments remain a priority for partners collaborating under the Safe Back to School (SB2S) campaign, launched under the Lusaka Water Security Initiative`s Green Schools Partnership Proramme in reaction to the Covid-19 outbreak. Partners now hosted the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) advisor for the GIZ-implemented programme “Fit for Schools”, Ms Anna Kristina Kanathiogoda, in Lusaka. The event took place on the 10th of August 2022 at Chakunkula Combined School, one of the 180 schools in Lusaka that has so far benefitted from WASH interventions under the SB2S Campaign.
The campaign targets schools with large enrolment numbers, special needs, challenges with water access and availability, as well as with providing adequate sanitation. It supports sensitization programmes for teachers, learners and the surrounding communities on proper WASH practices, as well as the installation of jumbo handwashing stations for many pupils to wash their hands simultaneously. Given the campaign`s success, the Fit for Schools visit to Zambia was aimed at getting a deeper understanding of the various WASH interventions under the campaign`s previous phases.
Safe Back to School Partners include Lusaka City Council (LCC), Lusaka District Education Board (DEBS), WaterAid Zambia and the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) supported by NatuReS.
Partners highlighted the strong collaboration and coordination between different organizations under the campaign, ensuring effective delivery of the project interventions. This has positively impacted the schools; creating a clean and green environment for leaners while building trust with the communities. This improved pupils` school attendance and strengthened the relationship between schools and communities.
Fit for schools supports ministries of education to sustainably improve water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. They are extending their reach to Zambia through the SB2S Campaign and will support the fourth phase of the campaign through the NatuReS Zambia programme.
The often inadequate disposal of industrial wastewater into public sewers deteriorates sewer structures, increases maintenance costs, adds problems in sewage treatment and contributes to stream pollution. Direct discharge into streams harms aquatic life and deems the water unfit for its intended use by both communities and businesses. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the volumes and levels of toxicity of wastes entering waterways through a combination of measures.
Challenges resulting from poor Industrial Wastewater Management
In Zambia, like in many other countries, issues around industrial wastewater (IWW) management are given less priority than those related to water supply. This is oblivious to the fact that both water supply and IWW management are essential and interrelated. Wastewater from industries and sewage spillages from burst pipes in most urban centres, including Zambia’s capital Lusaka, are released into streams and wetlands. From there, they subsequently discharge into catchment areas or leach into aquifers upon which communities and businesses are heavily dependent on for water supply. Most of the poorly managed wastewater from industries is released into the environment in an untreated or partially treated state. Also, most industries have adopted substandard treatment methods that partially treat and, in some cases, even forego the effluent treatment process in totality. Therefore, industrial wastewater management becomes critical. As such, an effective IWW strategy is necessary to promote and improve IWW management and determine priorities pertaining to the enforcement of applicable legislation, monitoring, and engagement with industries.
To effectively do this, an intercountry learning exchange was coordinated by the GIZ Reform of the Water Sector Programme Phase II (RWS II) active in Zambia and the GFA Consulting Group with support from NatuReS Tanzania and Zambia. The objective was for the Tanzanian partners of NatuReS to share best practices, challenges and effective innovations in managing industrial wastewater with their Zambian counterparts. Case presentations were made by Eng. Miriam Esanju from the Wami Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB) from Tanzania and Fred Chimpukutu, Senior Chemist at the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LWSC) from Zambia, triggering insightful exchange of experiences and success factors that could help with challenges such as environmental pollution, faced across both countries.
Industrial Wastewater Management in Tanzania: Challenges and Solutions
In Tanzania, industrialization is one of the key strategic objectives within the National Development Framework. However, with the expansion of water-intensive production, treating the increasing amounts of wastewater poses major environmental and regulatory challenges, such as the complex process of obtaining official permits for the appropriate disposal of wastewater. As multiple regulating agencies are involved in this process, industries are required to obtain various types of permits. This resulted in complex and lengthy processes to safely dispose of wastewater. The untreated wastewater discharge does not only have negative impacts on the ecosystem and the health of communities using the water, but also on foreign investment, as international investors increasingly value environmental compliance. Therefore, NatuReS under the Partnership with the Tanzania Export Processing Zones Authority has supported the development of industrial wastewater guidelines, as well as the integration of digital water management systems for a more efficient permit regulation.
Industrial Wastewater Management in Tanzania: Stakeholder Interviews
Industrial Wastewater Management in Zambia: Way Forward
A Trade Effluent Management (TEM) Task Team has been established in Lusaka with stakeholders from the mandated and responsible authorities led by LWSC as well as industries located in Lusaka. The TEM seeks to coordinate the mobilization and use of human, financial, and other relevant resources for the implementation of industrial wastewater management activities for the city of Lusaka. The task team also seeks to support the coordination of the regulation, monitoring, enforcement and management of the trade effluent discharge into the sewerage system.
The shared lessons from Tanzania have the potential to inform current activities in Zambia and could be adapted by LWSC to ensure the effective treatment and management of industrial wastewater effluent. These lessons also aimed to improve LWSC’s monitoring of industrial wastewater and the safeguarding of the two new wastewater treatment plants to be constructed through the Lusaka Sanitation Programme with support from KFW and EIB, as well as technical assistance from RWS II.
The Green Schools Partnership Programme (GSPP) focuses on improving and enhancing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (“WASH”) in schools within Lusaka. It specifically targets public and community schools in Lusaka’s most vulnerable (peri-urban) communities.
The Safe Back to School (SB2S) Campaign is a project implemented under the GSPP as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The campaign supports the implementation of prevention and control measures to enable learners and teachers return to school in a safe environment. This is achieved through improving knowledge of key hygiene behaviours for Covid-19 prevention in schools and surrounding communities, adherence to preventive measures, improving Covid-19 multi-sectoral coordination in Lusaka District and enhancing accountability and reporting mechanisms for targeted schools.
The SB2S campaign has had three phases since 2020, with the most recent phase ending in May 2022. In this third phase alone, 80 schools within Lusaka District have been reached, and 72.000 learners, 2.400 teachers and 400.000 community members have been sensitized and trained in Covid-19 prevention and proper sanitation and hygiene practices. The project also provides handwash facilities, waste bins and hygiene items to schools. For the sustainability of these facilities, local female entrepreneurs have been capacitated to fabricate the necessary handwash stations, improving economic opportunities for their local businesses. Collaborating partners of this project include Lusaka City Council, Lusaka District Education Board, the Zambian Ministry of Health, WaterAid and the University of Zambia (UNZA); all collaborating under the Lusaka Water Security Initiative(LuWSI) partnership.
To commemorate the success of the third phase of the SB2S campaign, a close-out event was held on the 13th of May 2022 at Mumana Primary School in Lusaka. The event garnered representation from all collaborating partners, including the District Commissioner’s office and the German Embassy. It included lively skits and poems from pupils of the target schools. During the event, the ten best performing schools in terms of WASH practices and facilities, i.e availability and accessability of sanitation and handwash facilities, were awarded with further hand hygiene and environmental cleaning materials. Moreover, the female entrepreneurs received their metal fabrication certification, testifying their capacity to produce the necessary handwashing stations.
Schools were also given the opportunity to display their environmental and menstrual health management innovations. There was praise and acknowledgement for the dedication and collaboration of partners towards the success of the campaign. Partners also made appeals for the campaign to continue and be extended to all the schools in Lusaka.
NatuReS supports multi-stakeholder partnerships to sustainably manage natural resources and provide direct and effective support to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, mitigate its impacts and build more resilient cities and communities.
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