Water In Zambia And Sanitation Facilities

Water in Zambia, is not equally provided to everyone. For example, out of the population of about 13 million in Zambia, about 5 million do not have access to clean water. This also applies to sanitation in Zambia; about 7 million of Zambians do not have access to sanitation facilities.

The situation is particularly evident in rural areas, peri-urban and low cost areas. Most of these areas lack safe drinking water and good sanitation.

The country’s main drainage system comprises of the Zambezi River and the Chambeshi watershed. Zambia’s major lakes include Lake Mweru, Lake Tanganyika (Part of it) and Lake Bangweulu. 


Zambia boasts of a number of big lakes which includes the following: 

  • Lake Bangweulu - Lake Bangweulu consists of the flood plains, the swamps, and the Lake itself. The floodplains are north of Kasanka National Park. The Bangweulu Swamps and Flood Plains are bolstered by 17 rivers but are drained by the Luapula river only.
  • Lake Mweru Wantipa 
  • Lake Mweru
  • Lake Tanganyika - Zambia shares Lake Tanganyika with Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania. Only 7 percent of its surface area is within Zambia.  


Some of the rivers are the following:

  • Lusuwishi
  • Luapula - The Luapula drains out of the Bangweulu Swamps and Flood Plains. 
  • Mkushi
  • Ngwezi
  • Kalomo
  • Lunsemfwa
  • Lukusashi
  • Luangwa
  • Dongwe
  • Lunga 
  • Ngwerere
  • Chongwe
  • Chalimbana
  • Chambeshi - The river drains into Lake Bangweulu.
  • Kafue
  • Kalungwishi
  • Zambezi - The Zambezi river is fed by the Kabompo, Luanginga, Kafue and Luangwa rivers. However, Kafue and the Luangwa rivers are the principal tributaries of the Zambezi. The Zambezi river finally flows into the Indian Ocean.

The Water In Zambia Utilities

Clean drinking water is provided by 11 Commercial Utilities, six Private Schemes and Local Authorities. Some of these utilities are as follows:

  • Western Water And Sewerage Company - Operates in some towns of the North-Western Province
  • Nkana Water And Sewerage Company - Kitwe and surrounding areas
  • Luapula Water And Sewerage Company - Luapula Province
  • Chambeshi Water And Sewerage Company 
  • Kafubu Water And Sewerage Company - In some Copperbelt towns.
  • Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) – Lusaka and surrounding areas
  • Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company – Chingola
  • Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company Limited – Kabwe
  • Chipata Water and Sewerage Company
  • Chambeshi Water and Sewerage Company
  • Konkola Copper Mines
  • Nakambala Sugar Estate 
  • Chilanga Cement Factory
  • Southern Water and Sewerage Company - Districts in Southern Zambia


Even with all the fore mentioned water resources, a recent study indicated that about 40 % of rural households does not have access to clean drinking water.

Getting water for most rural inhabitants is not simply turning the tap on. The people usually draw their water from wells and rivers which in most cases are a distance from their homes. They have to walk some distance, and then carry the water back home in buckets or any suitable containers.

In towns the water utilities have managed to supply piped water to a certain extent. However, in most towns, the service is poor. Though meters have been fixed, you find that some households do not have water at all.  This has forced some of them to dig their own boreholes, right in their own yards!

All water utility companies operate under the regulations of the National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO).  

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