According to the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS), more than 36 per cent per cent of Zambia’s population lacked access to basic drinking water services while more than 67 per cent lacked access to basic sanitation services in 2018. An estimated 10 per cent of the population practiced open defecation while 76 per cent of households did not have access to a handwashing facility with soap and water in 2018.
Lack of adequate WASH services may pose serious challenge for effective prevention and control of COVID-19. For effective COVID-2019 response, it is, therefore, critical not only to sustain the existing water, sanitation and hygiene services but also scale up these to reach the unserved and under-served vulnerable population, as well as meet the increased demand.
Against the above backdrop, the WASH response is meant to contribute to Government of Zambia’s wider efforts aimed at reduction of exposure to and prevention of the human to human transmission of COVID-19 through strengthening IPC and sustaining and scale-up of WASH services and promotion of appropriate hygiene behaviour.
The critical needs in the WASH sector include strengthening of WASH and infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the health care facilities and schools; improvement and continuity of water supply to vulnerable communities, especially in the rural and high-density urban areas; provision of critical supplies including soap and handwashing stations to vulnerable populations and hygiene promotion together with infection prevention and control messaging.
As part of efforts to support continuity of water supply services, critical water treatment chemicals have been supplied to 11 commercial utilities that serve over 6 million people in the urban and peri-urban areas.
A total of 137 health care facilities and COVID-19 treatment centers benefitted from WASH and IPC improvement measures in Nkeyema, Kaoma, Lukulu, Sikongo, Mongu, Limulunga, Kalabo, Mitete, Nalolo, Senanga, Chibombo, Chongwe, Rufunsa, Chikankata, Mazabuka, Monze, Pemba, Kalomo, Zimba and Kazungula districts.
Approximately 56,250 people were reached with safe water in Chibombo district and peri-urban areas of Lusaka district.
About 322 schools benefited from hygiene supplies, including handwashing stations, soap and hand sanitisers in Kafue, Chongwe, Rufunsa, Lusaka, Mwense, Samfya, Monze, Mazabuka, Pemba, Kazungula, Mwandi and Livingstone districts.
An estimated 136,000 vulnerable people were provided soap and/or other critical WASH supplies in Siavonga, Chirundu, Kafue, Chongwe, Lusaka, Samfya, Mwense and Livingstone districts.
A total of 1,955,532 people were reached with messages on safe hygiene practices in different districts in Lusaka, Luapula, Southern, Central and Copperbelt Provinces.
Planned activities to support continued improvement of WASH has not started due to funding gaps.