7. May 2008

Almost 50 Per Cent of Rural Citizens Have Access to Clean Water

The number of people in the Mozambican countryside with access to clean drinking water rose by over 20 per cent between 2004 and 2007, according to the Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias.
Answering questions in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Zacarias said that only 40 per cent of the rural population had access to clean water in 2004, and the figure had risen to 48.5 per cent by 2007.
Some provinces are better supplied than others. In three provinces, over 70 per cent of the rural population have access to a decent water supply - these are Inhambane (73.5 per cent), Sofala (71.5 per cent) and Maputo (70.7 per cent). This is a huge improvement for semi-arid Inhambane, where the coverage rate was 55.4 per cent in 2004.
But the greatest challenges are posed in the two largest provinces, Nampula and Zambezia, where clean drinking water reaches less than a third of the rural inhabitants. Dismal though this figure is, it is a considerable improvement on the situation four years ago.
Zacarias said that the number of Zambezia rural dwellers with access to decent water had risen from 22.8 per cent in 2004 to 32.1 per cent in 2007. In Nampula the increase over the same period was from 16.6 per cent to 31.2 per cent.
The government's target, in its five year programme, is to have 55 per cent of the rural population enjoying clean water by the end of 2009. Mathematics suggests that the current rate of building and rehabilitating wells and boreholes needs to be stepped up, if that target is to be achieved.
As for the urban areas, the target is that 60 per cent of their population will have access to clean water by 2009. Zacarias said that in the major cities the water companies' capacity to obtain, transport and store water has been greatly increased in recent years, and now "we are expanding the water supply network to areas that were not previously served".
This expansion was starting in 2008 in Beira, Nampula, Quelimane, Pemba, Dondo, Inhambane, Maxixe, Xai-Xai and Chokwe. A project is also on the drawing board for further expansion of the Maputo water system.
Already this year there had been 3,000 new connections to the Maputo piped water system, said Zacarias, and in the Costa do Sol neighbourhood, 13 new standpipes were installed which are currently serving over 20,000 people.
Under a financing agreement reached recently, he added, the owners of homes with new connections will only pay ten per cent of the cost of the connection, and the rest is subsidized.
Zacarias was convinced that the 60 per cent target will be reached in 2009, but warned "for these services to be sustainable, and so that future generations, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren, can benefit from clean water, we must fight against illegal connections and the theft of water meters". (AIM, Maputo)


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