When staff at the Zambian utility Lukanga Water visited their German partners in 2019, many ideas were generated on how to improve the water supply in Kabwe. The COVID 19 pandemic prevented a return visit to Southern Africa for a long time. In the meantime, reciprocal on-site visits have again taken place in the companies.
Lukanga Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LgWSC) Ltd. is responsible for urban water supply and sanitation in the Central Province of Zambia. As one of eleven Zambian water utilities, the company employs 260 people, supplies water to 444,000 people in the Central Province and operates the sewage system there. All water utilities in Zambia are organised under private law, but are 100% owned by the municipalities in the country's ten provinces (so-called "commercial utilities"). LgWSC was founded in 2006 in the course of the reform of the Zambian water sector, in the course of which the socially acceptable commercialisation of water and sanitation services was completed in order to professionalise and thus improve services.
GELSENWASSER AG is a diverse infrastructure company for water supply, wastewater management, electricity and gas supplies and off-grid power generation. The public listed company with over 5,500 employees in the group is one of Germany’s largest water utilities. The water works in Haltern is one of the largest in Europe.
The Zambian water utility Lukanga knows the challenges in the areas of water supply and sanitation in Zambia’s Central Province: water losses, at around 50%, are too high, many administrative processes (such as accounts, data management and technical documentation) are inefficient, and staff often lack the necessary know-how. In the long-term partnership, the German utilities and Lukanga want to benefit from intensive dialogue and mutual learning.
The partner companies developed a plan, initially with nine work packages covering a broad range of topics, from the storage and maintenance of pump systems and further training measures through to the establishment of an energy management system for water supply and wastewater management. At the beginning of 2021, the partners set to work on the packages, or those parts of the packages that could be processed online. Lukanga first carried out an inventory of its plants, pipelines and work processes. In the meantime, reciprocal on-site visits have again been taking place at the plants to get first-hand ideas for the work.
The partners have also started preparing their pilot project. In an area measuring only one square kilometre, they want to demonstrate over the next two years how Lukanga can establish a well-designed and efficient water supply system. They aim to identify leakages in the water supply in the pilot areas and map out the current status of the pipeline system in a GIS application. Water meters are to be installed in all households, and the invoicing system brought into line with professional standards. The pilot project will show how Lukanga can reduce water losses and increase income at the same time.
During visits to Germany, the Zambian colleagues gained insights into training and work processes as well as guided tours of drinking water supply and wastewater disposal facilities at Gelsenwasser and Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband. Concrete tasks, such as the assembly of a repair seal and the installation of so-called IoT devices for water level measurement, were given to the partners. One installation could be carried out. In this context, a direct exchange could also take place between the experts of the GIS departments of both companies. The collection of GIS data in the pilot area of Pollen is continuing, and the first successes are becoming apparent.
In close cooperation with the experts from Gelsenwasser and EGLV, a programme was developed to educate and raise awareness on the topics of occupational safety and energy management. A central approach here is the train-the-trainer principle. The aim is for Lukanga Water's experts to act as multipliers and to implement the contents in their operational processes in a sustainable way. At the end of last year, further training sessions were also held on the topic of maintenance. Some facilities were cleaned, sealed and protective coatings were renewed.
Based on the pressure measurements carried out in the pilot area, a data analysis could be carried out and recommendations derived. Smaller purchases, such as tools and protective equipment, were made. In the course of a coordinated asset management process, responsibilities for operating equipment are to be clearly regulated. In the long term, the measures should help to reduce water losses and increase revenues accordingly. These can then in turn flow into the further optimisation of the water supply and disposal infrastructure. See also: Installation of zone meters – GIS – asset management
By 2023, with a solid investment plan behind it, Lukanga will also be capable of drawing up solid funding applications for improving water supply and wastewater management services and forwarding these to development policy donors. Lukanga also aims to optimise its databases by this time in line with the German model. This will involve linking data from various areas, such as tendering procedures, maintenance management and accounts. The German partners expect to benefit from the many opportunities for intercultural learning, for taking on responsibility in the Global South and for staff development.
Last update: July 2023
“In our visit to Germany, it was fascinating to see how energy was generated from wastewater in the sewage treatment plants. The real-time mapping and maintenance of the pipe system was also impressive. We saw how well and efficiently a management system can work when the constituent parts - from investment planning and the maintenance of the pipe system through to accounts – are all linked.”
William Yoram Sinyangwe, Elias Njebele and Nangoma Mwaka Ng'andu, Lukanga Water Supply and Sanitation Company Ltd.
Lukanga Water Supply & Sanitation Company Ltd, Kabwe, Sambia
GELSENWASSER AG, Gelsenkirchen (Lead-Partner)
Emschergenossenschaft / Lippeverband, Essen
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