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A decade of implementing water services reform in Zambia: Review of outcomes, challenges and opportunities

Horman Chitonge
National Research Foundation, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa;

ABSTRACT: Zambia has been implementing water sector reforms for the past two decades. These reforms initiated major changes in the organisation and management of water supply services starting from the 1990s culminating in the full-scale commercialisation of water services in major cities and towns. This paper reviews the outcomes of implementing these reforms, focusing on the results of the commercialisation of water services in the last 10 years. Data presented in this paper show that there have been positive developments, but many serious challenges as well. Evidence from the review of the past 10 years suggests that much progress has been made in areas related to management and operation performance, while little success has been recorded in core areas such as expanding the network, service coverage, hours of service, and reducing the affordability burden, especially among lower-income households. The key challenge for the water services sector is to find a workable infrastructural development funding formula that will make it possible to sustain and build on the foundation laid over the past decade.