All 11 water utilities around the country will be expected to upgrade their service provision from sewerage to sanitation following a change in their licensing from NWASCO.

In an interview on the side-lines of the just-ended two-day media workshop on the ongoing Lusaka Sanitation Programme (LSP) at Ibis Gardens, Friday, National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) technical inspector for sanitation Lloyd Beensi announced that all 11 water utilities were expected to provide on-site sanitation services in their respective jurisdictions in a bid to aggressively tackle water-borne diseases, such as cholera.

“It all boils down to the cholera outbreak that we had in 2017-2018. After that outbreak, it was thought necessary that we cannot leave things unattended to, more especially that the cause was from ground water contamination. Meaning that, whatever shallow wells that were actually from the vicinity of the existing on-site sanitation facilitates like the ordinary pit latrines that are very common in our peri-urban areas, those were the contributing factor towards the contamination of those ground water sources where people had access for their drinking water. So, it was thought necessary that something needed to be done,” Beensi said.

“In terms of licensing, for this year going forward, all these commercial water utilities like Lusaka Water & Sewerage, will be required by law to be providing on-site sanitation facilities, not just in urban and peri-urban areas, but this extends their mandate to cover the entire district or service area. So, it all comes from the Act, Water and Sanitation.”

He added that the effective commencement date for water utilities to upgrade their service provision was from July 1, 2019.

“For the operating licenses for all the 11 commercial utilities, which NWASCO is currently licensing, it is going to be effective July 1, 2019, (and) is requiring them to start providing the service. But of course, there is quite a lot of investment that needs to be done. So, it’s not likely that such kind of services will start being offered July 1; this is something that is new. But it’s about starting,” he said.

Asked if this new service provision would help water utilities boost their revenue mobilization efforts and improve their financial position, Beensi said the emphasis from the regulator’s perspective was to enhance quality of service to consumers.

“Of course, being commercial companies, they are supposed to break-even, but we are interested in the service provision. It might not be something that can be appreciated in the short-term, but the results will be very visible in the long-term. This has actually worked quite well in other countries within the region,” replied Beensi.

Earlier, LWSC on-site sanitation specialist Eng. Mwansa Nachula told journalists that the utility will soon be rebranded to the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company as it continued implementing the LSP, an ambitious infrastructure project, which commenced in 2015, and aimed to ultimately impact 500,000 Lusaka residents’ lives through improved sanitation facilities and underground water.