The Water Crisis in Zambia

Zambia in Southern Africa is one of the world's fastest growing economies, thanks to its rich resources and thriving agriculture industry. While Zambia's economy is growing, many challenges remain. Widespread poverty and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS mean the average life expectancy is just 47 years.

Nearly two people in three lack access to safe water, and half the population has nowhere to go to the toilet. These problems have a grave impact on health – 5,000 children die every year from diarrhea in Zambia.

Despite large freshwater resources, rainfall has declined in the last 30 years. With little water to drink or grow crops with, people’s health and wellbeing are severely affected.

More Water Facts

  • 4.7 million people in Zambia don't have access to safe water; over a third of the population.
  • Over 7 million people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Zambia, over half the population.
  • Over 5,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Zambia.

The Water4 Solution in Zambia

Zambia was the location of Water4’s first project. In 2009, Water4 trained a team of five young men who had been orphaned by the AIDS crisis. Together these young men founded Samfya Water and Sanitation and began drilling water wells in their community as a business. Since that time, this project has grown to three business units. In this project, developmental funds are used to capitalize the initial cost of the wells, but community members pay a monthly maintenance fee to ensure the longevity of the wells and assist with the cost of drilling additional wells in their community. By using this method, the drillers can now operate without subsidies in many cases.

Since 2009, Samfya Water and Sanitation has drilled or rehabilitated 140 wells, serving approximately 40,000 people. In the second quarter of 2014 alone, the Samfya drilling team completed a 13-well project in the village of Kasuba. This project brings clean water to more than 5,000 people across three villages and has resulted in a 30% reduction in waterborne illness over the last year.

This team is proving the Water4 model of sustainability. In the past few months, the water committees established in five villages have used their well repair funds — funded by village households who are paying for their own water — to maintain their Water4 wells, ensuring sustainable clean water for their communities.

Water4 also provided training, tools and equipment to the Lubwe Well Fund, which has drilled over 100 wells since February of 2009, serving over 50,000 people.