Angola: Improved water governance boosts access to clean water

20 Jul 2012

Luanda, Angola - Over the last three years, some 400,000 Angolans living in the capital, Luanda, and in the western province of Moxico have improved access to clean water and sanitation facilities through a combined boost to infrastructure building and water sector management capacity.

This is part of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) overall effort to support the authorities put in place an effective water and sanitation system, through legislation and decentralisation of public service delivery, while ensuring community involvement and local ownership.

To lay the groundwork for future work in this sector, UNDP has helped develop a draft national policy on sanitation, the country’s first such legislative document in this area, which is with parliament for approval.

UNDP is also currently providing technical support to the authorities to develop a national strategy on solid waste - one of the capital’s most pressing problems - as well as a research study on water prices in the country to help inform the first ever regulation policy in the sector.

To improve the local authorities’ capacity to manage service delivery, more than 100 water and sanitation officials have been trained in water governance issues, including planning and data collection, and they are already working with municipalities and communities to improve water sector management.

With UNDP support, Luanda’s Kilamba Kiaxi municipality, with more than 200,000 inhabitants, is now one of the first in the country to establish and manage its own water and sanitation database system – a key tool for planning and monitoring water services. In municipal staff have been trained on sectoral planning tools and methodologies, and have been able to develop their own first Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

To ensure that the policy is moving along with service provision, UNDP, together with other UN agencies, has been working with the authorities and other partners to set up small and medium-sized water utilities owned and managed by local communities, who also maintain the water treatment facilities to ensure they remain functional.

Previously, communities either drew water from contaminated rivers - exposing them to water borne illnesses such as choler - or paid high prices for poor quality water from private vendors.

As part of the programme, extensive advocacy on hygiene and sanitation at the community level, led by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has resulted in more awareness about maintaining healthy water points where communities collect their water, helping to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases.