Mumbwa in water crisis as vital dam dries up

 CHIBILA Dam has dried up, plunging Mumbwa district into a serious water crisis. Providing about 50 percent of the area’s domestic and industrial water supply, the Chibila dam problem has been attributed to the effects of climate change as it has not been spared by the drought experienced last year. The crisis has caused a scramble for water among farmers cultivating along the banks of the Chibila stream which has further affected the flow of water into the dam. Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company Limited public relations manager Siwa Mwene, who confirmed the development to the Daily Nation, said the fate of Chibala Dam had been worsened by human activities.

Ms Mwene said the district was relying on boreholes to supplement the lost water resources, a process that had been greatly hampered by ZESCO load shedding. “Stakeholders met yesterday at Mumbwa Civic Centre to discuss immediate measures to be undertaken to alleviate the crisis. There is scramble for water among farmers, and this has affected domestic consumption,” Mr Mwene said. Mumbwa District Council chairman, Gracious Hamatala, declared the water crisis an “emergency” which needed immediate intervention by Government and all stakeholders as lack of water was posing a threat to health matters of the district.

“The main water supply run by Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company Limited (LgWSC) has run out and the storage holding capacity of the dam has been affected over the years. One reason is because of the cultivation that has been taking place along the river banks. This has resulted in a reduction in the dam’s capacity,” Mr. Hamatala said. He also revealed that diarrhoea cases had increased in the town over the past few days especially among children and if the situation was not curbed, the district could be on the verge of a cholera outbreak as reported in some parts of the Central Province. Meanwhile, LgWSC managing director Mushanyo Kapusana expressed sadness that the dam had dried up and that the utility company was not able to pump water to the community.

He said the utility was working with stakeholders to come up with immediate measures that could alleviate the problem. Mr Kapusana said the water utility company was also frantically engaging all stakeholders upstream with the view to releasing the flow of the stream to allow water to build up in Chibila Dam. He explained that the company had medium term measures in place which included the aggressive mobilisation of resources through Government to drill and equip two new boreholes in order to improve water supply to affected residents. Mr Kapusana said LgWSC  had a tough time extracting enough water from the boreholes to supply and effectively mitigate the crisis due to increased  load shedding in Mumbwa. He said the utility company had since appealed to ZESCO to reduce the hours of load shedding in the district so that it could have a bit more time to fill the reservoirs and supply water to the people.