Botswana Water Utilities Corporation
Botswana Water Utilities Corporation Providing water and wastewater serviced across Botswana
he Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is a parastatal organisation, wholly owned by the Botswana Government. It was established in 1970 by an Act of Parliament with a mandate to manage a single project for the supply and distribution of water in what was then called the Shashe Development Area. Today, WUC is responsible for the provision of water and wastewater services in all towns and villages across the country and has been since 2009.
This involves planning, constructing, operating, treating, maintaining and
distributing water resources in the country’s urban centres and other areas mandated by the Botswana Government, as well as the supply of bulk water to the Department of Water Affairs and the various Local Authorities for distribution to villages and other smaller settlements in the country.
In the 44 years since its inception, the Corporation’s mandate has expanded to supplying potable water to all urban centres and villages in the country, as well as managing wastewater under the Water Sector Reforms Programme (WSRP). The programme resulted from a study to rationalise the water
sector in Botswana and ensure uniform service levels for all. The implementation of the Water Sector Reforms Programme effected in May 2009 and was completed in April 2013.
OPERATIONS WUC is the sole provider of water and wastewater services in the country which allows for sustainability and profitability.
WUC’s Chief Executive Officer, Godfrey Mudanga, says that the Corporation enjoys a lot of financial support from the Government in the form of direct funding or guarantees in cases where the Corporation seeks funding from both international and national financial institutions. “In some cases major infrastructural projects like dams are implemented directly by the Government and handed over to the Corporation to run,” he adds. The Government highly subsidises water connection fees to make water accessible to the general populace and especially the poor communities. The Corporation makes a loss on the cost of some connections, especially
in the villages and in some instances is instructed to provide water services in areas where it is not commercially viable to do so. The Corporation is divided into a total of 16 Management Areas each assigned to provide water and wastewater services in a defined area.
Through its vertically integrated model, the Corporation operates and maintains dams and boreholes, treats the water, distributes the water to each consumer’s tap, collects the wastewater and treats it and carries out further treatment for reuse including as potable water in the near future. “The advantage of the model is that through economies of scale for a small population like ours, the Corporation is able to share expertise across the functions especially on aspects like asset management. This also ensures that treated effluent is seriously considered as a resource and not ‘waste’,” says Mudanga.
INFRASTRUCTURE The Corporation has managed to put in place robust water supply infrastructure over the years, both primary and secondary. The
Corporation’s infrastructure includes nine dams: Gaborone, Nnywane, Bokaa, Shashe, Letsibogo, Ntimbale, Dikgatlhong, Lotsane and Thune as well as the North South Carrier Scheme (NSC) which comprises a 365km long pipeline, water treatment plants and associated pump stations, while a duplicate North South Carrier is under construction. “The NSC is one the largest transfer schemes in Africa, both in terms of diameter and distance,” comments Mudanga. “It transfers water to the south of the country, which is the most populated and the economic hub of the country, thus supporting national development. The scheme is operated remotely, which makes the operation cost effective.” Botswana is ahead of most African countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water supply. Access to clean and safe drinking water is currently above 90 percent in a drought prone country with a target of achieving 100 percent by 2016.
WATER QUALITY AND PROJECTS The water quality in Botswana is measured against a national drinking water standard which is based on the World Health Organization guidelines. This testing is done by a competent laboratory which is accredited to ISO 17025. In order to achieve the consistent high quality product the WUC has started implementation of quality management system, ISO 9001, which still at development stage. The
aim is to certify for the same standard by December 2015.
The Corporation is implementing projects across the country to improve water supply in the taken over villages. This is being done through: - Purchase bowsers
- Equipping and of boreholes
- Procurement of generator sets
- Repair and installation of storage tanks - Upgrading of pump stations
- Installation of package treatment plants - Design and upgrading of water schemes - Construction of pipelines
- Installation of prepaid standpipes and connection of some villages to existing water supply systems “The other ongoing major projects include Gaborone, Lobatse and Sowa Master Plans,” says Mudanga.
“The projects are intended to meet the increasing water demand in the mentioned areas and surrounding villages. To augment water supply from the north to the south of the country, the government commenced construction of a second pipeline, the North South Carrier Scheme (NSC), other major schemes which are at various stages planning or implementation include the Chobe/ Zambezi transfer scheme with a capacity of 495 million cubic metres
per year and the Lesotho Highlands transfer scheme.â€?
WUC utilises a Business Processes Management (BPM) whose objective is to streamline the operations to make the Corporation more effective and efficient. This includes various training courses and targeted change management initiatives to align the corporate culture with WUCâ€™s business objectives.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Various Corporate Social Responsibility projects are either ongoing or completed. These include a donation of 150 pairs of shoes to orphans in Letlhakeng, houses for destitute families in Kanye and Letlhakane, a photocopier and printing machine in Sefhare and litter picking in Masunga amongst other initiatives.
WUC has implemented the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality programme through NOSA since 1995 and the corporation is also ISO 14001 certified for the key operational areas. In 2005, the corporation embarked on an energy management strategy to reduce pumping cost as well as to contribute towards the globally programme of reduction of carbon emissions.
FUTURE WUC is committed to improving water delivery service through ensuring that potable water keeps flowing to the customer and wastewater away from them.
There is also a project to install prepaid meters across the country is planned to commence in the current financial year ending March 2015. The project is expected to address issues of delays in billing, high consumer debt and water losses.
Oliver Moy Publisher
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African Business Coverage Issue 9