Zimbabwe: $33 million African Development Bank clean water and sanitation project nears completion

Safe water access and cleaner waste collection are set to become a reality for vulnerable communities in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, as a Bank-funded water and sewerage improvement project enters its final phase.

The Mayor of Bulawayo examining new backwash pumps at the Criterion Water Treatment Works

The Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP), a $33 million project is on course to rehabilitate and upgrade water production treatment facilities, water distribution, sewer drainage networks and wastewater treatment disposal facilities in the southwestern part of the city.

The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020.

“We are counting down months to completion. With the full suite of new services, we seek to reverse the devastating effects that poor sanitation and water supply has brought to this area. We look forward to witnessing the positive impacts that these changes will bring and building the resilience of this society,” said Mr Damoni Kitabire, Country Manager for the Bank’s Zimbabwe office.

Bulawayo, like many urban centres in Zimbabwe, has been affected by years of under-investment in its water and sewerage infrastructure maintenance. The city also suffers from water insecurity due to frequent drought. Less than 50% of the sewage generated in the city is currently collected, and the exposure to contamination is significant.

The project, administered by the government of Zimbabwe via the Bulawayo City Council, is designed to contribute to the health and social wellbeing of its population.

“Before the project, water was distributed on a ration basis, forcing marginal communities in Cowdray Park, an informal settlement in Bulawayo District to walk for over a kilometre to get water,” said Engineer Simela Dube, Director Engineering Services for the Bulawayo City Council

In addition, nearly 2,000 municipal staff have been trained (30% of them women) to address the lack of skills to efficiently manage water and sewer service delivery systems, and several interns afforded an opportunity to hone new skills through engagement on various segments of the project.  Training was provided on the environment, water services, gender and health.

Supporting the rehabilitation of water and sanitation in Zimbabwe has been one of the Bank’s priority areas since a cholera epidemic in 2008/09.  The BWSSIP is an extension of the Bank’s efforts to stabilize and improve water supply and sanitation services in Zimbabwe.

Without adequate financing, the city was suffering from inadequate and dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure, including inefficient and old pumps and treatment works; non-functional sewer systems and frequent instances of contaminated pipe water.

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