Water sector reform

Programme description

Title: Reform of the water sector
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Zambia
Lead executing agency: Ministry for Local Government and Housing (MLGH); Ministry for Mines, Energy and Water Development (MMEWD)
Overall term: 2013 to 2015

At a water kiosk in Zambia. © GIZ


In 2013, only 57 per cent of Zambia’s urban, and about a third (34 per cent) of its rural population had access to adequate sanitation. At the same time, 83 per cent of people living in cities had access to clean drinking water, compared to one in two in rural areas. The insufficient provision of basic sanitation and drinking water means it is easier for diseases to spread. The great potential of the country’s extensive water resources is not yet being adequately exploited. Zambia faces the challenge of improving its water supply and sanitation services, while managing the water resources efficiently.


The legal, organisational and institutional framework of the Zambian water sector has improved, enabling greater access to clean drinking water and adequate basic sanitation. As a response to climate change, integrated management of water resources has been sustainably improved.


GIZ has provided support for the water sector reform process for many years. It advises the Zambian Government on the implementation of two national programmes for the urban and rural water supply and sanitation services, and for the establishment of climate-sensitive water resources management.

In rural areas, the Provincial Support Team, which is operated by GFA Consulting Group, provides advice on planning, implementation and supervision of the water supply and sanitation services, to the local authorities as well as the units of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) responsible for the water sector. Besides MLGH, GIZ is also advising the regulator, NWASCO, the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) and selected commercial providers under the national urban water and sanitation programme – whereby the management advice to the Eastern Water Supply and Sewerage Company is delivered by Rodeco Consulting.

The programme also supports the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development (MMEWD) with the elaboration of principles for integrated water resources management and the implementation of the water act, and in setting up the Water Resources Management Authority.

Other projects aim, on the one hand, to improve the monitoring of water resources in the light of climate change, and on the other, to involve the private sector in efforts to ensure water consumers adapt better to climate change and collaborate to reduce the threats to water.

The consulting firms GFA and GOPA Infra support the implementation of the project.


The poverty fund, DTF, which is supported by several donors, designs and finances measures intended to increase access to water and sanitation services. Using appropriate technologies for low-income and periurban areas, including water kiosks, it has helped about one million people obtain access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Sanitation measures conducted in the course of four waste-water projects reached some 15,600 people. Another six sanitation projects started in 2012, and are expected to reach as many as 30,000 people. The commercial operators supported by Germany have improved their operational efficiency and were given the accolade of best water suppliers in Zambia.

The provincial support team in the Eastern Province trained and advised more than 2,000 people from district councils and district committees on subjects such as project management, monitoring and controlling, as well as on crosscutting topics like gender, HIV/AIDS and the environment.

Despite of the great extent of Zambia’s water resources, there is a need to manage these resources more sustainably to foster socioeconomic development in the country. To this end, the parliament passed a water resources law in 2011, and established the Water Resources Management Authority as well as a number of catchment councils.

Improved access to water and sanitation services and better hygiene standards have slowed down the spread of HIV and reduced the number of AIDS-related deaths. The programme supports the regulator, NWASCO, and the water utilities in their workplace programmes and awareness measures on HIV/AIDS. It supports MLGH and the DTF in developing and implementing gender equality strategies and policies. As part of this, gender equality committees have been established in the 11 commercial utilities, and training provided for their respective focal persons.

Further information