Private sector participation in the water and sanitation industry in Zambia : opportunities and constraints
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Adoption of new mechanisms through which water supply and sanitation services may be provided to communities in Zambia has been undergoing continuous transformations over the last decade.Policy makers and other key stakeholders have been trying to find the most appropriate and self sustaining service delivery mechanism, through which good quality services can be provided to consumers throughout the country. In 1993 the Government of Zambia embarked on a reform process primarily aimed at addressing the many problems associated with water supply and sanitation to communities.Notable outputs of the reform process were; passing of a new National Water Policy, enactment of new legislation, establishment of new institutions and the strengthening of the regulatory framework.Private Sector Participation (PSP) has prominently emerged as one of the probable ways through which service delivery can be improved in Zambia. This assertion emanates from the widely held notion that, "the private sector can enhance operational efficiency due to their strong adherence to sound commercial principles and good management practices ".The main objective of this study therefore was to, "investigate the appropriateness of PSP service delivery arrangements as a means through which water supply and sanitation services may be rendered in Zambia (the City of Lusaka being the test case) and to identify the associated opportunities and constraints". The main approach centered on evaluating the experiences gained from PSP contracts in water supply and sanitation that are already in existence and using the findings to help formulate a PSP option for Lusaka, Zambia. Three PSP cases were evaluated in this study namely, Kampala-Uganda, Dar Es Salaam-Tanzania and the Copperbelt Province-Zambia (this contract was confined to only the ex-mining areas of the Copperbelt Province).The main findings revealed that the main problematic issues in Zambia's urban water supply and sanitation service arena are; failure to access capital required for infrastructure rehabilitation in order to stem the many network losses, inadequate capital for network expansion, poor commercial management leading to low revenue collections, overstating, financing for effecting improvements to the poor and political interference.In this study it was determined that these issues were to a large extent addressed in the PSP contract in Uganda and to a lesser extent in the newly incepted PSP contract in Tanzania. Based on the attributes of the many PSP contracts in use world wide, it has been established that initially, a 2 to 3 years duration Performance Based Management Contract, followed by a 7 to 10 years duration Lease Contract (upon successful completion of Management Contract) as the most suitable PSP proposition for Lusaka.However,haphazard adoption and subsequent implementation of PSP in any form will not bring about the expected results. What is cardinal is that prior to adoption of PSP for any given service area, a well focused, detailed and thoroughly laid out due diligence study ought to be undertaken to establish the merits and or demerits of using PSP. This stems from the position that not all of the problems outlined above are prevalent in all the service areas implying that the solution will vary on a case by case basis. Therefore it can be asserted that PSP is not necessarily a panacea for Zambia's water supply and sanitation sector.
- Engineering