From shallow wells to safe water – improving lives in Lusaka

Themes: Gender Health impact Utilities WASH Water
Countries: Zambia Zambia-local

Around one and a half million Zambians living in cities lack easy access to safe, clean water.

In the capital city Lusaka, the situation is so bad that some people have to drink from pools of water at the bottom of crevices in the rocky ground. These crevices, known as shallow wells, are often contaminated with waterborne diseases such as cholera or dysentery.

Mavis Chibango used to be dependent on other households, who had access to private boreholes, for her water. She would be charged twice the going rate for water, and as a result, could not always afford enough water for her family’s needs – meaning that her family would not be able to clean their clothes or bathe.

Even worse, when the power supply was cut, Mavis would not be able to get any water from the boreholes. This meant she would have to fetch water from shallow wells, often causing her family to get sick.

Shallow well, Lusaka

Using water from a shallow well is dangerous, but sometimes people have no choice

Kameya Kashweka from our Zambia team describes how we have been working to improve water access for people like Mavis:

“With the support of Wasser fuer Wasser, WSUP has been working in Mavis’ community John Laing, on the outskirts of Lusaka, to address this problem. In the area of John Laing where she lives, half the population lack safe access to drinking water, so improving the water supply is a high priority.”

“We supported the city utility, Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company (LWSC), to lay 10 kilometres of new, high quality water pipes into the ground – no easy task given the rocky nature of Lusaka’s terrain.”

Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company workers digging trenches for the new water pipes. Credit: WASSER FÜR WASSER

“Then WSUP and LWSC built 10 water kiosks, each of which provides convenient water access to several hundred houses.”

New kiosk, John Laing

One of the new water kiosks in John Laing

“We’re also trying to get more households to have individual connections. To help people pay for this, in 2019 we plan to set up a loan fund. This work will also be supported by Wasser fuer Wasser.”

Read what Mavis, and other residents are saying about the improvements:

Mavis Chibango – resident of John Laing

“The water from the kiosks is affordable, clean and safe to drink. My family and I are very happy because we do not suffer from diarrhoea anymore and I do not have to walk long distances to fetch water for the household.”






Mutinta - resident in John LaingMutinta Mweetwa – resident of John Laing

“As you can see I can pay for all these containers of water and I only spent K1. I am able to use this water for drinking, cleaning, cooking and washing.”






Memory - water kiosk operator, John LaingMemory Bwalya – water vendor

“I am now able to earn a living, as I was jobless before the opening of the kiosk.”






No one should have to drink water from a contaminated shallow well. And yet in cities in Africa and Asia, too many city residents lack access to a regular, clean supply.

With your help, we can provide more low-income communities with access to safe water and decent sanitation.

More about our work in Zambia