Transparency International says corruption
has made the cost of water more expensive in most developing countries,
threatening billions of lives.
The scarcity of clean water delivery in
Zambia has led to water-borne diseases, such as cholera and trachoma. Zambia’s
finance and national planning minister says the government has allocated
additional funds to the water sector. He made the comment in an address to the
National Assembly in January. The minister, Situmbeko Musokotwene, says
government will spend up to US$ 40 million to improve the water infrastructure
in underserved areas. The lack of adequate water has created sites where
waterborne diseases are spread.
But Zambians have
heard such promises before.
A closer look at
the situation shows that corruption in Zambia emerges at every point along the water delivery chain. It can be
seen in the drilling of community boreholes, the construction of water kiosks
and the rehabilitation of water infrastructures.
Bupe Kabwe is a
resident of Chipata compound, a heavily populated township outside Lusaka. She wakes up at five o’clock every
morning to fetch water for her family. She
says it’s not safe for women to walk long distances early morning. But the
water kiosks are turned off by seven o’clock in the morning and they cannot go
without water all day.
The World Health
Organization says only 40 percent of rural dwellers in Zambia have access to
safe drinking water.
And the 2008
Transparency International Global Corruption report says massive investment in
the water sector has been announced worldwide yet there are still water
shortages in most parts of world due to corruption.
Yvonne Magawa is
with the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWSCO).She says, ”We (Zambians) are still a
developing nation, where most of our people live under [the] poverty line. So
as long as we are not addressing such forms of wrongdoing like corruption in [the]
water sector, we will not develop. As NWSCO we are trying to regulate and
monitor the water utilities so that they provide the best service 24 hours.”
A prime example of
corruption in the water sector in Zambia is the multi- million dollar government
bid to drill boreholes at two public universities -- the University of Zambia
and the Copperbelt University in the northern town of Kitwe.
Anti-Corruption Commission notes there are irregularities in awarding the
contract because the company that got the contract is registered as a food
processing enterprise, not an engineering firm.
They said the
company lacks the equipment for such a project. The university borehole project
Chola, a senior
inspector with the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council, says “We have
seen a situation where people are buying plots and building mansions (very good
houses) but the water utilities are not involved in the process. So what is
happening is that we are just seeing structures coming up. But now the problem
is that people in those areas are finding it difficult to access the sanitation
services because they are not sanitation lines. So some are forced to corrupt
the utilize staffs to get connected.”
diseases such as cholera and trachoma are the second biggest killer of Zambia’s
children after malaria. Since last November more than 500 people have died from
cholera in Zambia.
Impure water leads to cholera, trachoma and
other water-borne diseases.