Pit-latrines degrading groundwater quality
The downside is that this all important resource is also highly vulnerable to contamination from inadequate sewerage provision and solid waste collection, industrial pollution and poorly planned development.
Lusaka’s sprawling George and Kanyama townships illuminate the severity of the problem, where a lack of planning, inadequate water supply and sanitation services and poor solid waste management degrade groundwater resources, with a severe toll on the health and livelihoods of residents.
They rely on water provided by the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) and Kanyama Water Trust (KWT) through water kiosks and communal taps.
In some areas of Kanyama, there are up to five times more shallow wells than water kiosks, and 40 percent of the population uses shallow wells for drinking water, according to the Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP),-a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to improve access to water, sanitation, and associated health benefits through multi-sector, stakeholder engagement.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Act requires water supply and sanitation utilities to provide efficient and sustainable water supply and sanitation services.
However, Lusaka’s peri-urban areas lack a sustainable sanitation system.
In Kanyama, for example, 95 percent of residents rely on pit-latrines, which are the most significant source of ground water contamination.
Studies of ground water quality in Kanyama show widespread contamination of boreholes, public taps and shallow wells.
Due to inadequate and erratic supply, and problems of affordability, many residents use shallow wells as their main source of water.
Studies carried out in George, Kanyama and elsewhere in Lusaka show high levels of contamination of groundwater by pit-latrines; water quality samples from shallow wells in Kanyama show levels of microbial contamination which vastly exceed ZABS drinking water standards.