Vice President Inonge Wina has directed the Ministry of National Development Planning and the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to design and develop the Zambezi River Basin Investment programme.
Mrs. Wina said this will holistically manage the entire basin, by developing specific sub-basin interventions that positively impact the Zambian people, while safeguarding the interests of other state and non-state actors.
The Vice President said water remains a vital element in the environment, hence the need to safeguard and manage the country’s water sources.
She said this during the official opening of the 9th Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition(ZAWAFE) in Lusaka today held under the theme “Innovative Action for water and sanitation: leaving no one behind”.
“We together must ensure that water contamination, poor quality, low quantities and wastage should be avoided at all costs”, she said.
Mrs Wina noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the importance of clean water, as it plays a critical role in maintaining public health and safety through good hygiene practices.
She stressed that the forum could not have come at a better time than now when the country is intensifying the provision of clean water, as well as adequate sanitation to people across the country.
“Government has prioritized the water resources management and development as well as water sanitation services under the Seventh National Development Plan.” She reminded.
She stated that Cabinet took a decision on 10th August 2020 by declaring and gazetting 15th to 21st March every year, as the Zambia Water Week which is commemorated every year.
Mrs Wina explained that the declaration has resulted in increased access to water supply from 64 percent in 2014 to the current 72 percent, while access to sanitation services has improved from 25 percent to 54 percent during the same period.
She added that in line with the Seventh National Development Plan which is anchored on accelerating development efforts towards the vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind, government is now rolling out the rural water supply and urban on-site sanitation systems and regulations.
And the Vice President appealed to all stakeholders to develop innovative technologies and ways of managing and developing water resources while mitigating the effects of climate change.
And speaking at the same event, African Development Bank Representative Mary Mwenya commended the government on the various interventions put in place to enhance access to clean and safe water supply.
Ms Mwenya however stated that it is imperative that the region comes up with alternative innovative solutions to address the challenges that most countries face with regards to the provision of water, especially in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said there is need for concerted efforts from all cooperating partners to bridge the gap on the provision of water facilities between the urban and rural areas.