10 Facts About The Sanitation In Zambia Zambia is a country with a population of more than 16.5 million. It neighbors Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi in the Southern-Central region of Africa. In 2011, Zambia achieved middle-income country status, reflecting the country’s substantial economic growth of an average of 7.4% per year from 2004-2014. However, as of 2015, more than half of Zambians earn less than the international poverty line and only 26% of the population has access to safely managed sanitation services. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Zambia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Zambia 

  1. According to the World Bank, the Water Sector Performance Improvement Project advanced the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) in the Lusaka, Kafue, Chongwe and Luangwa districts of Zambia. The project reduced interruptions to clean water supplies from 5,000 to 333 from 2007-2013 and increased the water collection ratio from 70% to 90%. The Water Sector Performance Improvement Project was crucial to improving Zambia’s public health resources by developing clean water resources and advancing the area’s sewerage systems.
  2. In 2003, a community-driven water and sanitation project delivered nine boreholes and 40 Ventilated Improved Pit-Latrines (VIPs) to the rural Chibizyi area of Zambia. The Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) aided this and benefited over 4,000 members of the community. Before the project, the people of the Chibizyi region walked vast distances in search of water, usually collecting water from polluted streams.
  3. After receiving better access to clean water, the Chibizyi community of Zambia then formed water, sanitation and health education committees in each village. The committees formed construction sites to build sufficient sanitation facilities to keep the water clean. Additionally, ZAMSIF used the Ventilated Improved Pit-Latrines (VIPs) sites as stations for distributing information on HIV/AIDS and malaria control.
  4. From 2011-2015, the Schools Promoting Learning Advancement through Sanitation & Hygiene (SPLASH) initiative implemented its program in 495 Zambian schools. Before SPLASH, Zambian schools faced limited drinking water and sanitation facilities, causing harsh learning environments for the students. SPLASH installed 662 handwashing facilities and 386 female washrooms in the schools. This allowed 133 schools to achieve a WASH-Friendly status and attract more students.
  5. In 2012, the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing developed national guidelines for Community-Led Total Sanitation in Zambia. These guidelines reached over 2.5 million people across the country by 2015. Officials implemented the guidelines through Zambia’s District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) digital software, which enabled real-time monitoring and feedback via computers. Communities following these guidelines and switching from open defecation to toilet use received verification as Open Defecation Free (ODF).
  6. The Water and Development Alliance (WADA), along with its partners United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Coca-Cola, are working to improve sanitation globally. Since 2005, they have improved avenues in more than 30 countries, giving more than 580,000 people access to clean water. WADA aids Zambia in improving water and sanitation access by implementing latrines and handwashing stations across the country.
  7. The Partnership for Integrated Social Marketing (PRISM), a marketing program for health services and products, instigated a distribution project in 2014. PRISM administered over 13,000,000 bottles of chlorine at Zambian hospitals. Zambians were then able to use the chlorine to disinfect and clean 9.27 billion liters of drinking water in all 10 provinces of Zambia.
  8. Only 18 percent of women in Zambia are able to obtain modern, feminine hygiene products. In response, Maboshe Memoria Centre in Mongu, Zambia, began producing sanitary napkin kits in 2019, modeled after the Days for Girls sanitary kits. The sanitary napkin kits are washable pads that can last up to three years. Previously, many Zambian girls skipped school during their menstrual cycle due to inadequate supplies. These kits enabled them to attend school during their menses and obtain hygienic and long-lasting products.
  9. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has aided in enabling 44% of Zambia’s population to achieve improved sanitation. UNICEF allowed Zambian villages to receive acceptable latrines and in 2015, around 75% of Zambia’s villages became Open Defecation Free (ODF). By 2020, UNICEF expects every Zambian to have an adequate latrine–ones that have handwashing facilities, offer privacy and dispose of matter effectively.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently aiding Zambia by investing in plans that encourage sustainable outlets for safe drinking water. The Global Water Strategy and USAID Agency Specific Plan aim to provide 1.7 million Zambians with sustainable water and sanitation resources by 2020. They plan to invest in significant infrastructure improvements that will strengthen water supply, sanitation and drainage in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.

Zambia has made substantial progress in sanitation since the early 2000s. It has developed plans to decontaminate drinking water and replace poor sanitation facilities. However, as Global Waters has indicated, there is still a considerable need for improved sanitation guidelines across the country to ensure every citizen has access to clean water. These 10 facts about the sanitation in Zambia shed light on these issues.

– Kacie Frederick
Photo: Flickr

Children in Urban Poverty
Children who drink unclean water or expose themselves to poor sanitation and hygiene face seriously heightened health risks. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and malaria. Out of the 2.2 million diarrheal deaths each year, the majority are children under the age of five. In areas with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation, children are also at risk for parasitic illnesses such as guinea worm and trachoma. Health outcomes range from child weakness to blindness and death. Poor hygiene increases the likelihood of these diseases and this occurs frequently among children in urban poverty.


Splash emerged in 2007 to bring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs to children in urban poverty around the world. Splash’s 1,779 program sites in schools, orphanages, hospitals and shelters support over 400,000 kids every day in eight countries. This includes Nepal (101,149 kids), China (84,234), Ethiopia (73,622), Cambodia (71,234), India (49,404), Bangladesh (20,603), Thailand (10,385) and Vietnam (18,365).

Splash focuses on harnessing the technology, infrastructure and supply chains already in use in large cities for solutions that serve the poor. The nonprofit’s founder, Eric Stowe, saw that hotels and restaurants had access to clean water, but the children in poor schools and orphanages across the street did not. Stowe saw this as an easy problem to fix by leveraging the existing economies and infrastructure.

Safe Water

Everything Splash does begins with ensuring access to safe water. Its water purification system removes 99.9999 percent of bacterial pathogens. Splash has the water regularly checked for quality which has reduced costs and maintained reliability. Splash’s point-of-use filtration is much more cost-effective and durable than typical approaches. Well-digging projects are often expensive, time-consuming and do not always work for urban areas. Additionally, Splash’s stainless steel taps last infinitely longer than plastic ones.  This approach to clean water is very sustainable. No new chemicals add to the environment and people reuse contaminated water in a gray water system.

Hygiene Education and Behavioral Change

Splash believes it is not enough for a child to drink safe water. It also encourages long-term behavioral change and improved hygiene through student hygiene clubs, child-to-child training and school events. It provides hygiene training for teachers and conducts soap drives at every school. Five-hundred and forty schools have received hygiene education, hygiene education has impacted 328,666 kids and people have donated 145,241 bars of soap.

In addition to installing high-quality filtration systems, Splash provides colorful, child-friendly drinking and handwashing stations that have been field-tested to make sure kids are excited to use them. Often children in urban poverty must drink and wash their hands from the same spigot; however, Splash separates drinking fountains and hand-washing taps to reduce the risk of water re-contamination. Splash uses fun, kid-centered learning materials to teach kids how to properly wash their hands with soap and develop good personal hygiene.

Improved Sanitation

By leveraging the clean water supply chain, Splash works to improve bathrooms in public schools to meet global standards for safety, privacy, cleanliness and accessibility. It ensures safe and secure toilets, water for flushing, gender-segregated toilets and bins for menstrual hygiene management. So far, Splash has reached 48,802 children in urban poverty in Ethiopia, Nepal and India with improved sanitation through 91 sites. Mirrors, colorful facilities and information are helping to motivate behavioral change and encourage proper toilet use by girls and boys.

Goals for the Future

Splash is a unique nonprofit because it aims to become “irrelevant”, “obsolete” and “unnecessary” by 2030.  Just as everything begins with clean water, Splash aims to complete all projects with a sustainable and strategic exit.

The ultimate goal is ensuring local success on its own time, its own terms, through its own talent and with its own funding. This is why Splash designs each program to have local roots, and be economically stable and enduring. It intends the solutions to live on as the ownership transitions from Splash staff to local owners.

As of 2016, Splash was on track for each of its ambitious goals. This includes WASH program coverage for all 650 public schools in Kathmandu, Nepal by 2020 and all 400 public schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by 2022.

Splash is a great example of a forward-thinking international nonprofit with a clear vision to develop long-lasting WASH solutions for children in urban poverty. The world requires lots of work to ensure affordable and clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the urban poor, but organizations like Splash are making progress.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

Water and Sanitation in Nepal

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, or Nepal, is a landlocked South Asian country located mainly in the Himalayas and between China and India. Nepal is the third poorest country in Asia with a GDP per capita of $2,690. Around 21 percent of Nepal’s 29.3 million residents live below the poverty line which is the equivalent of 50 cents per day. Poverty has been a contributing factor to the nation’s long-standing issues securing clean drinking water and proper sanitation. However, Nepal has made tremendous progress increasing its population’s access to improved water sources to 91.6 percent in 2015 compared to 65.9 percent in 1990.


Still, while more people have access to improved drinking water, the quality of the water remains alarming. In 2014, 81.2 percent of household drinking water from improved water sources and 89.6 percent from unimproved water sources tested positive for fecal contamination.

Thirty-seven percent of Nepal’s rural areas practice open defecation. This is a huge decline from 93 percent in 1990. Open defecation perpetuates a cycle of disease, poor sanitation and poverty. Exposure to human waste through open defecation and fecal contamination in drinking water leads to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and trachoma. Children under 5 are especially susceptible to increased health issues, stunting and even death due to these diseases. Since the end of 2017, 47 of Nepal’s 75 districts have eliminated open defecation which is great progress. Nepal aims to soon be entirely free of open defecation with universal sanitation and improved hygiene.

Sixty-two percent of households in Nepal use an improved sanitation facility compared to only six percent in 1990. This is substantial progress, but there is still more to do to secure improved sanitation in Nepal. Twenty percent of Nepal’s public schools lack improved water and sanitation facilities and 19 percent lack separate toilets for girls and menstrual hygiene management facilities.

Uncontrolled industry discharge, domestic waste and untreated sewage flowing into Nepal’s bodies of water have worsened the water and sanitation crises in Nepal. The 2015 earthquakes also destroyed many of Nepal’s clean water systems and networks.

Nepal’s National Water and Sanitation Goals

The Government of Nepal set the national goal of providing 100 percent of the population with basic water and sanitation services by 2017. Nepal created around 40,000 water schemes to achieve these goals. Its first priority project is the Melamchi Water Supply Project that transfers water from the Indrawati River Basin to the Bagmati River Basin to provide clean drinking water for the people of Kathmandu. The Bagmati Area Physical Infrastructure Project is another big project that aims to clean and save the Bagmati River and its Kathmandu tributaries to become a source of clean water.

Efforts to Improve Water and Sanitation in Nepal

USAID’s Safaa Paani (WASH Recovery) project helps improve sustainable drinking water in the two districts where the 2015 earthquakes disrupted water systems the most—the Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha Districts. From 2015 to 2019, the Safaa Paani project is collaborating with Nepal’s Department of Water Supply and Sewage and other stakeholders to lead the reconstruction of water and sanitation infrastructure in Nepal. Its key outcomes are to renovate or construct water supply systems for 200 communities, map water sources, conduct microbial water quality tests, create water safety plans and create 10 public latrines in public areas.

UNICEF’s WASH intervention programs for Nepal are also multifaceted. These programs work to improve access to safe water at schools and health care facilities, strengthen water safety with regulations and plans, develop strategies to ensure clean water and sanitation to unreached areas and support the government to develop new WASH legislation. They emphasize gender equality by gender-friendly sanitation facilities and by promoting proper menstrual hygiene. UNICEF credits its programs successes to intersectoral collaboration.

The nonprofit Splash supports 101,149 kids daily to receive clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene programs in Nepal through sites in the city of Kathmandu’s 500 public schools. It focuses on water filtration purification, improving sanitation with safe and secure toilets, hygiene education and behavioral change. Splash helps improve water and sanitation in urban areas of Nepal by leveraging existing markets.

Overall, Nepal and various nonprofits have made rapid strides to improve water and sanitation in Nepal. The country has made progress in increasing the access to clean water and sanitation facilities as well as eliminating open defecation in many areas. This momentum of progress must continue to address Nepal’s remaining water and sanitation issues. The intersectoral collaboration of NGOs, the Nepalis, the Government of Nepal and businesses will continue to address these issues and reach towards improvements in water and sanitation in Nepal.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr