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A Plea to President Hakainde Hichilema: Addressing Lusaka’s Water Crisis

Dear President Hakainde Hichilema,

Sir, as you head home this evening from your office, you will likely see these women captured in these photos. You will likely see them because they have become a familiar feature along Mosi-O-Tunya road, the road your motorcade uses frequently.

They risk their lives crossing the busy road in search of water because Lusaka Water decided to cut down hours of supply significantly for a whole 60 days because of a leak at Iolanda water plant. Thanks to the nearby Mum’s Clinic in Woodlands, the women are allowed to draw water from the facility.

Granted the leak needed to be attended to but the timing couldn’t have been more shambolic. Mr President, your Minister of Water and his team are aware that we are now in the summer and historically, the water table is at its lowest this time of the year in Lusaka and most of the household and industrial boreholes are almost dying up.

I am not an Engineer but common sense tells me that since this was a structural issue, a remedy could have been sought to either delay the shutdown or deal with it with minimum operational disruptions.
I have not heard your office issue any statement on this issue which in my books fits the definition of a crisis, you cannot have a an entire city going for majority of 60 days without any water and somehow it feels like business as usual.

Please direct Lusaka Water to start setting up emergency water points using bowsers in hard hit areas that have no boreholes. If this is not done, the environment is fertile for a major public health crisis.

Mr President, access to water and sanitation are recognized by the UN as human rights, your team at the Ministry of Water and LWSC are therefore denying your people this right which I find to be unacceptable.

By Changwe Kabwe