Zambia: Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI)

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Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company (LWSC), Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), Zambian Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Lusaka City Council, National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), Zambian Breweries, Zambian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Nature Conservancy 


Lusaka‘s need for water, estimated to be approximately 400,000m3 per day, is outstripping what both the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) and nature can supply.

The increase of borehole drilling is causing aquifer levels to drop faster in each successive dry season. Many wells are now dry for several months a year. This is worsened by increased populations and economic developments on critical groundwater recharge zones which reduces infiltration during the rains. Zambia is also affected by increasingly variable rainfall as a result of climate change. Much of Lusaka’s groundwater is increasingly contaminated with faecal matter (sewerage), hydrocarbons and other chemicals. This is due to the LWSC’s limited capacity to effectively enforce environmental laws and the lack of appropriate sanitation and waste management facilities. This contaminated water is subsequently consumed, untreated, by a good proportion of the estimated 40% of the city’s residents who are unserved by LWSC’s network.

The Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company relies on the Kafue river for 45% of its supply. The water is brought to the city through an approximately 50km long pipeline. A second pipeline is being planned in order to increase the percentage supplied from this source and decrease reliance on groundwater. However, the water quality in the Kafue Basin, is severely affected by industrial, mining and domestic waste which finds its way into water bodies through run-off and the leaching of pollution. Ecosystems, such as the Kafue Flats and the Lukanga swamps which provide critical services like purification of water and flow regulation, are also under threat from human and climatic pressures.
The impact on the city’s water resources has escalated to a degree that water-intensive businesses are already considering relocation from the city to areas with a more secure water supply, potentially having a devastating effect on the city’s economy.



Approach and Objectives

LuWSI is a multi-stakeholder partnership of public sector, private sector and civil society actors, and will create a platform for dialogue, analysis, planning, coordination and action to improve water security for Lusaka. It will identify, develop and implement concrete projects to improve water security.

LuWSI will focus on areas prioritised by its core partners. To date these have been:

  • Groundwater pollution prevention (including sanitation, industrial and solid waste)
  • Sustainable groundwater exploitation
  • Future flows of the Kafue River
  • Access to water supply and sanitation services in a rapidly growing city Each action area will be addressed by a technical working group consisting of authorities mandated and partners interested in implementing projects to address these focus areas. Projects will be administered within a joint water security action plan



The International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP) acts as the interim secretariat for LuWSI. It supports stakeholders to assess, prioritise and monitor water security threats and solutions; to create awareness, momentum and advocacy for change; to develop a project pipeline and to mobilise new actors and resources; and to improve coordination, joint planning and implementation of partnership actions.

Quick-win activities, which have been prioritised by partners, are already underway, including:

  • Protection of Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company’s boreholes through creating multi-functional public open spaces
  • An education and awareness campaign to capacitate school children to deliver educational theatre plays to communities



Challenges and Outlook

Lusaka’s infrastructure and institutional systems struggle with the speed and severity of change. On the institutional level, there is insufficient policy, funding, leadership, coordination and cooperation in the planning and development between public authorities either managing water, or impacting water through their instructions and decision-making.

The lack of overall transparency and coordination means that decisions like planning consents and permits for the location of industrial areas are often granted without proper evaluation of the costs and benefits to the city’s water security, and subsequent social and economic impacts. On an infrastructural level, the city and its residents and businesses do not have adequate coping mechanisms for deteriorating water supply and quality, e.g. high capacity water storage, effective treatment technologies or the ability to recycle water.

Although complaints about the situation are common amongst domestic and industrial users, and each public authority recognises the problems, individualised efforts and a lack of unity means that stakeholders are not working together to support or defend Lusaka’s water security in light of political, socio-economic and environmental change.

Aligning the motivations, capacities and approaches of these different stakeholders holds an enormous amount of potential for sustainably safeguarding Lusaka’s water security.

There is already a substantial donor focus on water in Lusaka, but with little coordination. Therefore, there are significant opportunities for a comprehensive approach which can be up-taken under the Lusaka Water Security Initiative.

Ten organisations from the public sector, private sector and civil society have already expressed their keen interest and support for the initiative through a letter of intent, which highlights the organisations’ general commitment to the overall coordination, formalisation and implementation of LuWSI. IWaSP is currently engaging other relevant stakeholders in order to formalise the partnership in the second quarter of 2016.


Country Set-up

In Zambia, IWaSP is anchored in the bilateral Reform of the Water Sector (RWS) Programme, a joint programme of the German and Zambian governments, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

IWaSP partners in this country include the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, the Water Resources Management Authority, the Lusaka and Ndola city councils, the Zambian Environmental Management Agency, Zambian Breweries and the Zambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

IWaSP is an international water security programme which combines global best practices in water stewardship with local know-how. Currently active in seven countries, the six-year programme (2013-2018) facilitates partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society to address shared water risks, while improving stakeholders’ use and management of water and building their capacity to develop their own solutions. GIZ manages IWaSP on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID).


Contact Information

Robin Farrington
Country Coordinator