Washington — U.S. investments in water and drainage systems in northern Mozambique, made through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), are supporting an urban boom in the region.
The investments, part of MCC’s five-year, $507 million compact with Mozambique, are helping to expand the water delivery system in Nampula, the country’s third-largest city, MCC recently reported on its website.
The improvements are part of the compact’s $207 million Water Supply and Sanitation Project, expanding water and sanitation services in three cities, creating rural water points and building the capacity of local water institutions. More than 1.2 million people are expected to benefit from this project, which is projected to increase per capita income by almost $150 annually over 20 years.
RAISING NACALA DAM
The Nacala Dam was designed and constructed from 1968 to 1975. In 1982, the dam wall was overtopped for 10 hours because the spillway gates failed, resulting in the severe erosion of the dam’s downstream face. Repairs have been made several times since then, but considerable seepage from the concrete wall of the spillway has undermined operations.
MCC is helping to rehabilitate the dam and to raise it from 17 meters to 19 meters to help deliver water to the fast-growing region it serves. An improved water treatment plant will be able to handle 1,041 cubic meters of water per hour — more than triple the current capacity. The dam’s storage capacity will increase from 4.2 million to 6.6 million cubic meters.
Currently, Nampula has about 10 hours of water service each day; after the project, the city should have water service 24 hours a day.
ACHIEVING PROPER DRAINAGE
For Rosalinda Jose Pereira of Nampula, it’s an experience as regular as the rainy season: Storms arrive, the land floods, water stagnates, mosquitoes thrive and malaria spreads. Flooded streets can also force traffic to a standstill and send operating costs skyward.
MCC is rehabilitating and expanding the city’s drainage system to help ease street flooding, control erosion in periurban areas and improve access to drainage channels in order to clean them.
The planned improvements in Nampula include rehabilitating 0.66 kilometers of drainage galleries and 174 storm water inlets in the city; constructing 9.5 kilometers of drainage pipes and almost 1 kilometer of galleries in the city; and realigning, widening or building more than 8 kilometers of stormwater drainage open channels in the periurban area.
MCC is also funding the rehabilitation and construction of stormwater pipes, galleries and open channels in Quelimane, the largest city in Zambezia province.
For Pereira and her neighbors in Nampula, improved drainage will mean a better quality of life.
“We can only do so much by ourselves,” Pereira said. “With this project, I hope my area will be much cleaner.”
IMPROVING WATER SYSTEMS
MCC’s investments in Nampula’s water system also include constructing or rehabilitating four pumping stations and one new distribution center, expanding a treatment plant and laying 16 kilometers of transmission pipes — all with the aim of improving water quantity and pressure for 400,000 people.
Another donor-financed project has already begun expanding household hookups to Nampula’s growing neighborhoods, like the periurban area built on a mountain to the east of the city center where Carolina Fernando lives.
“I will be so happy when I can have water nearby,” said Fernando, who used to rise with the sun each morning to search for water.
Another resident of that neighborhood, Ana Albano, is also hopeful about the future. Each day, she walks about 30 minutes to a set of hand-dug wells, where she methodically lowers a jerrycan cut in half and attached to a bamboo stick into the 4.5-meter-deep hole, fills it and then transfers the contents to another jerrycan on the surface.
It’s a routine Albano performs five times a day, with each trip taking a little more than an hour. “Ever since I have been small,” she said, “I have needed to fetch water every day.”
If a water source were closer, she said, she would have more time for cleaning her house and washing clothes.
THE NACALA BOOM
About 160 kilometers east of where Fernando and Albano search for water, the Mozambican boom is underway.
The road into Nacala is lined with huge factories and is typically jammed with trucks ferrying their cargo to the deepest port in southern Africa. A new international airport is under construction, and billboards announce the intention of international hotel chains to cater to the influx of foreign business people. Container ships dot the coastline. Dozens of trucks wait in line at the city’s two concrete factories. Business signs are written in Portuguese, English, Chinese and French.
Nacala is the epicenter of northern Mozambique’s growth, and MCC contributes to this growth by providing access to a more secure water supply network by constructing a new dam on the Muecula River and by improving the city’s water supply system. Ultimately, both projects are designed to help provide water to about 220,000 people.