According to The Nation, Cabinet has approved a K30 billion loan for Lilongwe Water Board to tap water from Lake Malawi.
Although this is good news, I have not raised my hopes high due to the loans that have previously been taken to address the water problems in Malawi.
Going through the investments that have been made since 1966, you get more confused because there seems to be a substantial investment that has gone into the water sector in Malawi but not much is changing`.
Since 1966, the World Bank has supported 126 projects in the water sector to the tune of $3 billion.
Between 1995 and 2003, government implemented the first National Water Development Project amounting to $79.2 million. The project was aimed at improving Water Resources Management Policy and Strategies by reforming and upgrading the management of water resources and the provision of water-related services.
In 2007, the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development, with funding from the World Bank implemented the $170 million second National Water Development Project to ensure 80 percent of people living in cities, towns and market centres have access to sustainable water supply and sanitation services by 2011.
The African Development Bank contributed $47 million. At the end of 2007, the bank had 15 active projects worth over $461 million.
From 2008 to 2012, the EU water facility and European Investment Bank approved a grant and a loan of €30 million for water and sanitation in Lilongwe and Blantyre to extend water supply and provide basic sanitation. The Netherlands and Unicef jointly fund water projects in 12 districts to the tune of $16.9 million.
In 2011, the World Bank provided additional financing worth $120 million to improve access to sustainable water supply and sanitation services. The funding was granted to cover: the rehabilitation of Walker’s Ferry treatment plant and Chileka pumping station; construction of three storage reservoirs at Kameza, Chilobwe, and Chigumula.
In Lilongwe, the project was supposed to cover Chikungu and Mtunthama water supplies, Kamuzu Dam 2, Bunda plant, and Area 9 supplies and storage tank.
In 2015, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Malawi Government signed a financial agreement worth K12 billion to finance upgrade work at Kamuzu Dam. The project is expected to run for four years. In December 2015, Members of Parliament authorised the government to borrow $58 million from Opec Fund for International Development and African Development Bank(AfDB) to finance improvement of Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation projects.
There are also water projects that have been implemented by Centre for Community Organisation and Development (Ccode), Water Aid, Unicef Water for People and other NGOs that have targeted low-income families.
With this substantial investment in the water sector that focuses on the generation and supply of water, one expects that water problems in Malawi might be reduced. However, the reality is that the water problems keep getting worse.
Why are water problems getting worse when there is more money being pumped into the sector?
Getting an answer to this question might help us understand why we still have water problems.
The more we borrow money to improve the water sector, the more we experience water problems.
Hearing that there is another loan that targets the water sector, I am left with more questions than answers.
I am not excited that we have the plan to get another loan. I am worried that this loan might see the same fate that the previous loans have seen in this country.