WaterAid is an international charity whose mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
WaterAid's envisions a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation and they aim to help one million people gain access to water and one million gain access to sanitation every year.
As a part of their mission, WaterAid has been working in Zambia since 1992. Below is their description of their work there.
WaterAid in Zambia
WaterAid first received requests for assistance during the severe 1992-4 drought. A country office was set up in Monze District in 1994 and WaterAid began work in the Southern Province.
This semi-arid region, with an average annual rainfall of just 70cm, suffers from water shortages and droughts. With few reliable water points, women and children have no choice but to walk miles every day to collect water which is usually dirty and unsafe.
This, coupled with the fact that only a small fraction of people in the province have access to latrines, means that water and sanitation related diseases are prevalent.
WaterAid first began work with the Department of Health in 1995 in a programme of hand-dug well and latrine construction, community mobilisation, education and training.
In 1996 the Government established a new water policy calling for urban water services to be privatised and rural projects to be community owned and managed.
It also stated that sanitation and hygiene promotion should be integrated with water projects.
This policy, known as WASHE (water, sanitation, hygiene education), is put into practice by district committees called DWASHE made up of district departments, including those responsible for health, water and community development, non governmental organisations (NGOs) and donor agencies based in the district.
WaterAid supports the WASHE concept and had been working to develop the skills and capacity of D-WASHE committees to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene education.
To increase its role nationally and promote more coordination with others involved in water and sanitation WaterAid moved its head office to the capital Lusaka in 2000.
WaterAid has since expanded its operations to seven districts, five of which are in the Southern Province (Monze, Siavonga, Namwala, Itezhitezhi and Kazungula) while the other two are Kafue in Lusaka Province and Kaoma in Western Province.
Until April 2005, WaterAid was working in partnership with D-WASHE committees in five of these districts while in the two others (Monze and Kazungula) WaterAid signed agreements with partners from the Department of Health.
In 2004 the Zambian government reaffirmed that local authorities are responsible for rural water supply with non governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector involved in implementing projects.
To support this change WaterAid now works with both local authorities and a range of partners including NGOs and small scale private contractors such as well technicians, latrine builders and pump mechanics who work directly with communities.
WaterAid and its partners have recently changed from the model village approach to the 'focus area' approach. In the first partners worked to ensure everyone in one village gained access to safe water, sanitation and good hygiene and this 'model village' was then used as a showcase, in the hope that other communities would emulate the scheme.
In the 'focus area' a wider area in a district is covered. This approach reaches a large number of villages making it easier to plan and monitor activities and provide support so that all villages gain equal benefits from the projects.
The most appropriate and affordable water technology has been hand-dug wells; however, this is changing as falling water tables have meant that WaterAid is also drilling boreholes too. We are now exploring the rope pump as another suitable technology option.
WaterAid is also working with partners to introduce composting latrines as one of a range of latrine options in Zambia. These latrines safely use human waste to benefit local agriculture by creating a renewable source of fertile compost.