Although progress has been made over the last decade, less than 50% of the rural Zambian population have access to safe water, with the majority having to rely on unsafe water sources such as hand dug wells or streams. The consumption and use of unsafe water have significant health impacts, with water borne and diarrheal diseases being the third highest cause of death and disability in the country. The high climatic variability in the region, resulting in frequent flooding and droughts, further compounds the stress on local communities.
Nearly 90% of the rural population rely on wood as their primary energy source, and for those that have no choice but to boil water for purification, this contributes to a major source hazardous household air pollution as well as carbon emissions.
Borehole handpumps offer communities a reliable means of accessing clean groundwater aquifers, and many have been installed over the past few decades. However, without regular maintenance they have often fallen into disrepair. The project rehabilitates and maintains these vital safe water sources, trains the communities on best WASH practices, and builds the capacity of local communities to manage and maintain the water sources into the future.
Each water point that is rehabilitated and maintained as part of the project provides communities with a safe and reliable clean water source, thereby reducing the risk of water borne diseases and removing the need to boil water for purification. The project also supports a programme of WASH training to improve the wider hygiene and sanitation practices within communities.
For those that bear the primary responsibility of resource collection, mainly women and children, the provision of a convenient safe water source means that the burden of time spent on collecting water and the wood for boiling water is reduced. This means they have more time to spend on other important activities such as attending school, supporting family-wellbeing, or participating in the economy. The project also engages with local schools to educate pupils on the benefits of safe water and hygiene practices.