of urban residents living in slums


Urbanisation rate per year


of people without safely managed sanitation


of people without even basic drinking water

Worked there since 2008 | Project locations: Lusaka, Livingstone

Zambia has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world and is highly vulnerable to climate change.

Around half the population of 18.38 million live in urban areas, with an estimated 70% of them living in informal settlements and the numbers are increasing every year. Most low-income families in major towns and cities still rely on privately owned boreholes and shallow wells, where water is expensive and often contaminated.

In the south, droughts are having a massive impact on water availability and during prolonged dry periods, community water kiosks and household connections can run dry, forcing low-income residents to travel further to buy water.

In Lusaka, the capital and largest city in Zambia, around 65% of residents live in low-income communities. These areas are often overlooked by utilities and service providers as they are less profitable than higher-income districts where residents can more easily afford water and sanitation services. Over half of the population of 3.48 million still lack access to even a basic sanitation service. This means they need to use onsite sanitation services such as pit latrines and septic tanks instead, which can contaminate nearby water supplies leading to the spread of waterborne diseases including cholera.

Our work in Zambia

WSUP partners with local authorities and develops strong relationships with mandated service providers such as Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LWSC) and Southern Water and Sanitation Company (SWSC).

We’re helping build local capacity and extending networks, we’ve piloted successful business models for both water and sanitation, and we’re helping ensure that low-income urban populations are targeted for improved services. We are also supporting the utilities and the government to adapt services and supplies in the face of climate change. 

Extending water supply to low-income communities

Improving sanitation services

Tackling water losses


Urban residents served
since 2005


People with improved water supply


People with improved sanitation


People who have received hygiene education


Rachel Chuuno and Alice Tembo, Livingstone

“Our neighbour was kind enough to allow us to use theirs.”

Faustina Boachie, Ghana Water Company

When Rachel Chuuno and Alice Tembo heard about the pit emptying service from Southern Water & Sewerage Company (SWASCO), in Livingstone, Zambia, they immediately saw it as a solution for a long-running and serious problem. Their pit latrine had reached its full capacity, forcing them to close it off and hoping they would eventually raise extra money to get a vacuum tanker to come and empty it. In the meantime, local help came in handy. “Our neighbour was kind enough to allow us to use theirs,” Alice says.

The recently created service from SWASCO, part of the TRANSFORM project, implemented by WSUP with funding from Unilever, EY, and the UK Government, seemed like the best option for their urgent issue. Not only was it affordable, but it also allowed them to reuse the old latrine, as opposed to building a new one.

The valuable help offered by their neighbour didn’t feel like a permanent solution. “Not only was it embarrassing, but at night it was dangerous for us to leave our house to go use the neighbours’ toilet because as women we feared getting attacked and risking our lives,” said Rachel. They were happy with how the new emptying service was done. The pit emptiers were clean and orderly, and their work meant the place no longer smelled.