When staff at the Zambian utility Lukanga Water visited their German partners in 2019, many ideas were generated on how to improve the water supply in Kabwe. To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented a return visit to southern Africa. However, the online possibilities are proving more useful than some expected.
Lukanga Water Supply and Sanitation Company Ltd is one of 11 private water utilities in Zambia. The company was founded in 2006 as part of the reform of the Zambian water sector, the aim of which was to privatise and improve water services. The company is owned by the 11 municipalities in the country’s Central Province. It has 260 employees, supplies water to 440,000 people in the province and operates the local wastewater system.
GELSENWASSER AG is a diverse infrastructure company for water supply, wastewater management, electricity and gas supplies and off-grid power generation. The public listed company with over 5,500 employees in the group is one of Germany’s largest water utilities. The water works in Haltern is one of the largest in Europe.
The Zambian water utility Lukanga knows the challenges in the areas of water supply and sanitation in Zambia’s Central Province: water losses, at around 50%, are too high, many administrative processes (such as accounts, data management and technical documentation) are inefficient, and staff often lack the necessary know-how. In the long-term partnership, the German utilities and Lukanga want to benefit from intensive dialogue and mutual learning.
The partner companies developed a plan, initially with nine work packages covering a broad range of topics, from the storage and maintenance of pump systems and further training measures through to the establishment of an energy management system for water supply and wastewater management. At the beginning of 2021, the partners set to work on the packages, or those parts of the packages that could be processed online. Lukanga first carried out an inventory of its plants, pipelines and work processes. Building on this, the utilities intend to develop and conduct online training courses.
The partners have also started preparing their pilot project. In an area measuring only one square kilometre, they want to demonstrate over the next two years how Lukanga can establish a well-designed and efficient water supply system. They aim to identify leakages in the water supply in the pilot areas and map out the current status of the pipeline system in a GIS application. Water meters are to be installed in all households, and the invoicing system brought into line with professional standards. The pilot project will show how Lukanga can reduce water losses and increase income at the same time. These extra resources can then be used to optimise the water supply and sanitation system.
As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic allows, the German partner companies will travel to Zambia, and work can begin on the specific measures in the pilot region. Staff at Lukanga are to undertake job-shadowing placements at the German utilities, where they will gain ideas and insights first-hand that they can apply in their own work.
By 2023, with a solid investment plan behind it, Lukanga will also be capable of drawing up solid funding applications for improving water supply and wastewater management services and forwarding these to development policy donors. Lukanga also aims to optimise its databases by this time in line with the German model. This will involve linking data from various areas, such as tendering procedures, maintenance management and accounts. The German partners expect to benefit from the many opportunities for intercultural learning, for taking on responsibility in the Global South and for staff development.
“We developed a detailed work plan in our many online meetings. We now hope to visit the plants in Zambia in the near future and get a clearer picture of their operations, the condition of the plants and piping system, the work processes and organisational structures.”
Dr. Gesa Kutschera, Head of Innovation and Research, Gelsenwasser
“In our visit to Germany, it was fascinating to see how energy was generated from wastewater in the sewage treatment plants. The real-time mapping and maintenance of the pipe system was also impressive. We saw how well and efficiently a management system can work when the constituent parts - from investment planning and the maintenance of the pipe system through to accounts – are all linked.”
William Yoram Sinyangwe, Elias Njebele and Nangoma Mwaka Ng'andu, Lukanga Water Supply and Sanitation Company Ltd.
Lukanga Water Supply & Sanitation Company Ltd, Kabwe, Sambia
GELSENWASSER AG, Gelsenkirchen (Lead-Partner)
Emschergenossenschaft / Lippeverband, Essen
Eigenbetrieb WABAU, Baruth/Mark
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