Despite over 95 percent of Blantyre residents having access to potable water, the city has a long way to go in addressing various water, sanitation and hygiene challenges, a new report has shown.
This is contained in the Blantyre Household Water Survey report for 2021, which details an assessment sanctioned by Water for People.
The report, launched on Tuesday at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre, assesses household water service metrics, including whether households get drinking water from improved points or systems, whether there are no seasonal shortages that limit the availability of water significantly, the water tariffs or affordability criteria and distance households cover in pursuit of potable water points.
According to the survey, Blantyre City has recorded a decline in all household water service metrics over the past three years.
Reads the report findings: “The city’s household water level of services has declined from 89 percent in 2018 to 81.3 percent in 2021.
“Comparatively, more people reported that water was not affordable in 2020 than in 2019, while 12.3 percent of the households were not satisfied with the water services.”
The report also indicates that more people reported experiencing seasonal shortages in 2021 than was the case in 2019.
Commenting on the report findings, Water for People country manager Ulemu Chiluzi said the challenges highlighted were unprecedented, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the reasons.
He said: “Generally, we are almost there when it comes to enabling access to potable water across the city but it is on the qualitative, quantitative and the general functionality parts that we still have some challenges.
“The pandemic has also thrown some spanners in the service provisions as it claimed some lives, affected some and also led to some serious shutdowns among various service providers, apart from the related restrictions of movement.
“However, I insist that the situation is redeemable, just requiring some concerted efforts.”
Speaking on behalf of Blantyre City mayor, Limbe Central Ward councillor Gerald Lipikwe welcomed the findings.
“I hope this has done our council a favour. We will be looking at the findings holistically to see how best we can work on the highlighted challenges. On the other hand, it gives us an idea on where to invest in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector,” he said.
The survey randomly sampled a total of 1063 households through various zones.
It aimed at having a holistic look at the key indicators that determine how sustainable water service delivery is in a district and also to quantitatively and qualitatively track progress on the sustainability of services over time with the understanding of highlighting challenges to be prioritised in future work or investments.