Maputo — The Mozambican government’s National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (PRONASAR) will need to spend about 75 per cent more than initially forecast in order to ensure that 70 per cent of the population has access to clean drinking water, by 2015, the cut-off date for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2000.
The official government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula, told reporters in Maputo on Tuesday that, between 2013 and 2015, the government will need to spend 35 million US dollars a year on water sources, rather than the earlier estimate of 20 million dollars a year.
This is because, at its weekly meeting on Tuesday, the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) approved alterations to the National Water Policy. Previously “full coverage” meant one water source (a well, borehole or standpipe) per 500 people living within a radius of 500 metres.
This was too many people per source, and in the more densely populated areas, such as peri-urban zones and parts of Nampula and Zambezia provinces, women had to queue an unacceptably long time just to fill a can with 20 litres of water. The figure of 500 people per source created an illusion of coverage, while in reality many households were still going short of water.
So the figure has been revised downwards, said Nkutumula. Each water source should now supply 300 people living within a radius of 500 metres. This means that, in order to reach the 70 per cent target, the government must invest in between 3,900 and 4,300 extra water sources between now and 2015.
“This is a challenge for the government”, Nkutumula said. “We must build new sources and repair others that are out of order”.
With the old figure, he added, it was difficult to persuade potential donors that the country still faced serious water shortages. Looking at the government’s own figure of 500 people per source, donors might logically conclude that 100 per cent coverage had been achieved – so why should they give more money to a water supply programme?
The figure of 300 people per source was much more realistic, and might persuade donors to maintain their support.
On the old figure, access to safe drinking water had risen from 30 per cent of the population in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2011. But with the new figure, the real coverage rate in 2011 was much lower – perhaps 60 per cent.
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Mozambique: Government Revises Water Supply Policy
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