Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo has commended the Northern Region Water Board for its untiring efforts that people in the country specifically in the North have access to potable water.
Tembo said despite numerous challenges the Board is experiencing, the Board remains a good model in the provision of potable water supply in the country.
Estimated access level to potable water in the major towns of the Northern Region towns currently stands at over 90 percent which is an improvement from 62 percent in 2006 when the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy was launched.
“They don’t have enough funds but they don’t let that depress them. They soldier on and the result is what we are seeing today. I hope that they will continue being driven the way they are for the good of the people of this country and specifically for this region,” Tembo said.
The Minister added that the Tonse administration will continue to support the Board to successfully deliver on its mandate.
“Their way of thinking is our way of thinking…the Tonse thinking…progressive and always planning ahead. Together, we will achieve more,” she stated.
Currently, customers are owing the Board over MK6 billion, a situation which is negatively impacting on the operations of the Board. 60 percent of this debt is owed by public institutions.
“We are now installing prepaid meters as one way of dealing with debt. We have already installed 8000 prepaid meters. We expect an additional 10 000 meters before the end of this year. Our target is that within the next two to three years, all our customers should be on prepaid,” explained Eng. Titus Mtegha, Chief Executive Officer for the Board.
The Board has over the recent past carried out and continues to carry out a number of developmental projects that are upgrading and extending the water supply systems in all the districts in the Northern Region.
Some of these projects include the Chitipa Water Supply Project and Mzimba Integrated Urban Water & Sanitation Project which successfully upgraded and extended the water supply infrastructure and capacity for the two districts.
Similar projects have commenced in Karonga and Nkhata Bay. The Board is also carrying out a Water Efficiency Project in Mzuzu City. The project is targeting to reduce non-revenue water to 20 percent from 36%. Strides have already been made with non-revenue water currently at 31 percent. The project is also improving the raw water source for Mzuzu by constructing a weir on Lunyangwa River, upgrading the weir and intake point at Ekwendeni, construction of service reservoirs and installing 15,000 prepaid water meters in Mzuzu.
The Board has also planned projects to upgrade water supply systems in Rumphi, Chilumba, Jenda, Chintheche, Embangweni and Mpherembe and is currently discussing with possible financiers. The Board has also carried out feasibility studies for the construction of a new dam for Mzuzu whose site will be in Chikangawa. The Board is currently discussing with prospective financiers on the dam project.