Half a million residents of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe have all the reasons to smile this festive season and beyond following the approval of a $100 million (about K73 billion at current exchange rate) Lilongwe Water and sanitation Project the World Bank, which will improve water services and sanitation in the city.
The World Bank approved financing for the six-year Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project (LWSP) composed of a $75 million credit and a $25 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) on Wednesday December 20th, 2017.
Two thirds of the project funds will help rehabilitate and expand the water distribution network. This will include construction of 27km of transmission mains and associated pumping stations and storage reservoirs.
It will also upgrade 142km of existing distribution network and expand the distribution network by about 186 km to areas of the city not currently served by piped water.
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) who will manage the project jointly with Lilongwe City Council (LCC) said it will help improve the water and sanitation challenges in the city on immediate and medium term.
“We are determined to provide our Lilongwe city customers with more efficient services first by fixing the distribution network through this project,” said Alfonso Chikuni, LWB Chief Executive Officer.
“This project will help improve the systems hydraulic capacity and reduce losses by ten percentage points.”
While improving the distribution network, the water board is simultaneously increasing the capacity of Kamuzu Dam I to assure supply in view of increasing demand. All these investments are under the broader Lilongwe Water Program which runs till 2021.
“Lilongwe City faces considerable water security challenges that must be addressed urgently to serve the growing population and enhance economic activities in the capital,” said Greg Toulmin, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi.
Through the project Lilongwe’s water demand will reach almost three times the current supply by 2035.
Toulmin added: “The supply system is already under strain. However, through this project the World Bank will ease that pressure through priority investments in water distribution network rehabilitation, as well as sanitation improvements to keep up with city requirements.”
In the LWSP, sanitation improvements will take about one fifth of the project funds. Just about 5 percent of the population of Lilongwe city is served by a sewer system, while the majority relies on onsite sanitation systems such as pit latrines and septic tanks.
“We have not invested in the city’s ailing sanitation system for a long time. This project is therefore a good starting point to fix the city’s sanitation system,” said Charles Makanga, Acting Chief Executive Officer for LCC.
The project will therefore rehabilitate and expand the sewerage network (107 km) and the Kauma sewage treatment plant. Five thousand new sewer connections will be installed to benefit about 90,000 people. There will be further support to construct 8,000 improved sanitation facilities benefitting about 160,000 people from poor and vulnerable households. Sanitation improvements will also cover some markets and schools.
The LWSP will enhance the capacity of LWB and LCC to deliver improved water services and safely managed sanitation services respectively. The project will also build LWB’s capacity to manage its investment program. With support from the International Finance Corporation – the private sector arm of the World Bank Group – LWB will also explore options for public-private partnership for water production expansion investments.