The (SADC-GMI) is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project with support from the World Bank. Through this project, SADC-GMI availed a grant to the Government of Zambia for the implementation of the “Groundwater Mapping and Development in Chongwe District” pilot project in the Chongwe District located 125 Km in the East of the capital city, Lusaka, Zambia. The community of Chongwe District is currently facing acute water shortages due to the ever increasing water demand due to population growth, and the effects of climate change and variability. This is aggravated with over abstraction which has made surface water sources an unreliable sources of water. Currently the community largely depends on groundwater which is accessed through communal tap water systems which are failing to meet demand in addition to the limited number of communal taps. Consequently community members queue for hours to access water from the taps.
The project being funded by SADC-GMI is expected to ease the water shortages. The overarching objective of the project is to identify and characterize a local aquifer in the Chongwe area with sufficient productive capacity to be used for settlement level water supply and to develop a well field to supplement the existing wellfield developed by the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC). The project will see the drilling of 3 boreholes that will be an additional 100m3/hours to the existing water reticulation system supplying 137, 461 Chongwe inhabitants with clean water.
Commenting on the project during the SADC-GMI and World Bank visit, Her Royal Highness Senior Chieftainess Mukamambo ll said in 2017-2018 water supply levels in the community dropped drastically leaving the community in dire need of water. She said her chiefdom and the community were grateful that such service was brought in the community and thanked SADC-GMI and the World Bank for the support in resolving the water challenge which has been going on for years. Her Excellency emphasized that this help was not taken for granted, her chiefdom and the entire community is grateful for the support.
Engineer. Kenneth Nyundu,Director from the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection said this project is seen as a starting point and a very good pilot project that could be upscaled countrywide, he said their main objective is to map the whole country to ensure that existing groundwater resources are known and developed to enhance water security. When the SADC-GMI and the World Bank team visited the project site, the drilling team had just commenced drilling.
The project is expected to be completed by end of August 2019.
Another SADC-GMI funded project currently under implementation is the “Groundwater Monitoring Network pilot project in Greater Harare, Zimbabwe”. The project is located inUpper Manyame Sub-catchment, in the Greater Harare. Greater Harare is highly dependent on groundwater with 28000 boreholes being registered and approximately 80% of the households in Harare use groundwater for potable water supply. As a result of the number of boreholes being sunk, the abstraction rate of groundwater resources now exceeds the recharge rate (referred to as groundwater mining), thereby threatening the sustainability of the groundwater resources. However, despite the threat of groundwater mining, resources are still allocated on an ad-hoc basis (using arbitrary figures). In addition to unsustainable withdrawals, Harare is also faced with the problem of deteriorating groundwater quality hence the need for monitoring to detect trends in water quality is essential.
Limited information to aid informed decision-making regarding groundwater utilization,and characterization is the problem. SADC-GMI availed a grant to the Government of Zimbabwe through World Bank for the implementation of the in Upper Manyame and Nyangui Sub-Catchments to address acute water shortages confronted in the Greater Harare, Zimbabwe. According to Alfred Muriya, Acting Chief Environmental Regulatory Planner, Department of Works City of Harare, the project will help provide solutions to many problems related to groundwater utilization in the Greater Harare, it will also help create better understanding of the groundwater system in the Greater Harare to inform policy formulation, and sustainable groundwater allocation going forward. The community will also benefit immensely from the project, by gaining access to clean water which may reduce water bone diseases which the community has continuously suffered as the result of lack of clean water, concluded Muriya.
The specific objectives of the project include characterization of the aquifer system in Greater Harare, set up an optimal groundwater monitoring , set up near-real time water quality and water level data collection system, estimate groundwater quality and quantity, determine groundwater quality trends, and develop hydrogeological maps for the Greater Harare. Three production boreholes will be drilled in state owned institutions,in areas identified as in critical need of water, the general community will benefit from these three production boreholes.
“It is essential to determine whether we are using the groundwater in a sustainable manner- know the abstraction and the recharge rate of the resource. The Groundwater Monitoring Network pilot project will enable us as Water Managers to make objective decisions whether the allocation regime we are currently applying is sustainable or not”, said Mr Wensley Muchineri, Chief Executive Officer of Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council. He also added that Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment will benefit from the project in terms of policy formulation, this project will enable the institute to make qualitative decisions based on proper research, and also the data collected will enhance the understanding of groundwater and surface water interaction as well as determining the recharge and discharge zone of groundwater in the Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment.
In his closing remarks Muchineri emphasized that it is important that the project is sustainable beyond World Bank the funding, to that effect he said the Government of Zimbabwe will educate the community about the importance, the benefits of the project and how to keep infrastructure in good condition.