Malawi’s multi-billion water project to tackle water woes in Mzimba district

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A US $22.85m water project is expected to tackle the prevalent water woes in Malawi’s Mzimba urban area. The water sector in the country has had its fair share of challenges especially in supply of adequate and safe water to large sections of the population, with the gradual increase in population worsening the already challenging situation.

The project is championed by the government and will be implemented through the Northern Region Water Board (NRWB). On the other hand, loans from OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) amounting to US $14.5m, African Development Bank (ADB) US $5m and a US $3m commitment from government are backing the project.

Mzimba district’s water officer Khuta Mzguli says Mzimba has been perennially hit with the problem of dry taps. This, he says, is attributed to lack of proper water system infrastructure, as the existing ones are unable to withstand the increased water demand. The water system, run by NRWB was instituted in 1950; and as such was tailored to cater for the population of that time.

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Unfortunately, households and public institutions have often bore the blunt of water shortage in Mzimba. For instance, the Mzimba South District Hospital at times struggles to provide quality health service because of water shortage challenge. The Hospital’s district environmental health officer (DEHO) Bestido Nkhoma has since decried challenges in day to day operations as a result of low water pressure or no supply at all.

According to NRWB chief executive officer Titus Mtegha, the new water system will improve the health and livelihood people through improved access to potable water, hygiene and sanitation services. It will also spell the end of erratic water supply once it’s up and running.

The upgraded water supply scheme is tapping water from Mzimba River, right inside Chikangawa Forest Reserve, 45 km South East of Mzimba Boma. Among other infrastructure works at the site is construction of a dam at the water source. This, according to Water and Sanitation Engineer, Jackson Mtungila, has since reached completion.

The new water supply system is targeting a population of 48,000 people. It is also expected to pump out a water volume of 12m liters in a day. The project, which started in April 2017, is expected to end in October this year.