Water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) experts have proposed introduction of a water levy in the price build-up of some essential commodities to generate funds for improvement of the sector’s performance.
Mzuzu University Water and Sanitation Department senior lecturer Dr Russell Chidya presented the proposal in his keynote address at the 2023 National Water Conference and Exhibition in Lilongwe on Thursday.
Titled ‘An assessment of water and sanitation status, challenges and opportunities in Malawi’, the paper highlighted drawbacks facing the water sector. These included poor infrastructure, high vacancies and low funding.
The levies, Chidya suggested, could be fixed on fuel and water bills.
He said: “There is need for increased operation funds to upgrade town and community water supply schemes.
“This could be achieved through water levies whose funds can be channelled towards development and maintenance of Wash infrastructure and water resources management.”
When put to him in an interview that the levies could burden Malawians further, Chidya said with massive lobbying, the public would appreciate the need to support the Wash sector.
“Wash has been neglected for so long as a result we have been staggering in terms of implementation of the services and infrastructure within the sector,” he said.
Chidya said the levied funds would help the country achieve the United Nation-inspired Sustainable Development Goal Number Six which challenges countries to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Last week, Ministry of Water and Sanitation lamented that the Wash sector has an annual funding deficit of K140 billion to improve service delivery and meet targets.
Meanwhile, Water Services Association of Malawi executive director Shadreck Kalitera has backed the proposal, saying it was among the flexible ways to scale up financing for the Wash sector.
In her response, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation Liana Kakhobwe said government will look into the matter.
She further urged the delegates to find solutions to growing challenges facing the Wash sector.
Said Kakhobwe: “We are experiencing increased development coupled with a growing population. This is exerting pressure on our environment and water resources.”
The summit was organised by Wasama under the theme ‘Be the change towards improved water and sanitation.’