Water Utilities tariffs are cost reflective via cross subsidy – NWASCO

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) says the current piped treated water and sewerage charges that are obtaining are cost reflective via a cross subsidy system. NWASCO as a regulator approves all water and sewarage tariffs for all water utilities in Zambia.

NWASCO communications manager Mpunga Simukwai told the Zambian Business Times – ZBT that the tariff system is designed in such a way that even if there may be different tariffs for different geographic areas, the overall tariff that obtains is cost reflective.

The tariff is designed in such a way that ensures that the overall tariff is cost reflective. For instance, the peri urban area tariff is below the cost of providing the service but whatever loses that are made are recovered elsewhere (in other urban areas) through a cross subsidy.

“It may seem that its not cost reflective but there is cross subsidy. This means the utility will lose in some areas but gain in others. The utility will not refuse to provide a service in an area where the tariff is not able to cover the cost of service because the cost will be covered elsewhere through a cross subsidy,” she said.

Simukwai further told ZBT that the national urban sanitation rate for Zambia is at 63.3 % as at 2017. To compute this rate, NWASCO considers the availability of access to sewered and septic tanks as adequate sanitation standard.

NWASCO role to prevent future Cholera outbreaks

When asked what NWASCO is doing to prevent a recurrence of the choral outbreak as the rainy season approaches, Simukwai stated that diseases like Cholera are multi faceted .

Cholera outbreaks touches on solid waste management, general cleanliness of public places, environmental management as well as shallow wells. Moreover, NWASCO does not directly have the jurisdiction over Public Health.

“Ours is to ensure that the Commercial Utilities (CUs) treat water according to the approved Zambia Drinking Water Standards, ensure that people get water from treated sources, and that they use acceptable sanitation facilities. CUs are required to sensitize the public,” Said Simukwai.

On the question of how rural folks are chartered for, Simukwai said NWASCO has launched the Rural Water Supply and Urban On site Sanitation Regulatory Frameworks and will start the implementation next year.

She lamented that the Commercial Utilities are not responsible for public health directly, but the relevant authorities need to sensitise the public on clean sanitation habits and avoid shallow wells, as a way of encouraging Preventative measures.

“The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Local Government are responsible for public health. They have to make sure that the health of the general public is maintained by ensuring that shallow wells are protected and  pit latrines that are not lined or meeting the sanitation standard or already full should be buried. Local authorities must as well ensure that solid waste is collected particularly before the onset of the rainy season,” she stated.

Water and Sewerage Sector is growing

According to the 2017 sector report, the total billing in the water and sewerage sector increased by about K70 million (about USD7 million) from 2016 period with all CUs recording an increase. The highest jumps in terms of absolute figures were recorded by Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC), Nkana Water Sewerage Company (NWSC) and Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company (KWSC), all with more than K10 million (about USD1 million) annual increase in billing.

Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) recorded the lowest increase of less than K1 million, which translated into 0.4% growth. Western Water and Sewerage Company (WWSC) and Luapula Water and Sewerage Company (LPWSC) recorded the highest jumps in percentage terms of 49% and 42%, respectively.