Sustainable freshwater supply in urbanizing Maputo, Mozambique

Posted on 15 April 2014


Photo by Joanne Beale

Maputo, like other Delta cities in developing countries suffers from i) freshwater shortage, ii) improper sanitation, iii) limited access to safe drinking water and iv) reuse of untreated wastewater (e.g. for irrigation). Furthermore, despite the good work done in the country regarding water supply and sanitation since the independency from the colonial power in 1975, there is still a long road ahead. In the country more than 50 % of the population still lacks access to an improved water source (WHO, 2013) and according to UNECA (2013), Mozambique has demonstrated a “slowed rate of progress” regarding access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, with TAC (2014) predicting that the goals for both indicators will not be reached in 2015 as planned, but only after 2025.

The following film, made by UN Habitat, presents some of the problems related to water distribution in Mozambique:

Thus, this project aims at developing centralized and de-centralized wastewater reuse systems to supply farmers and small industries. While the former will be located at the existing wastewater treatment plant of Maputo, the later, will be located in the peri-urban areas (transition between rural and urban) of the city. In this way it is possible to alleviate the pressure on the already strained water sources that supply the city. These reuse systems will be projected to produce “water-fit-for-use”: adequate the level of treatment to the quality standards for a specific use (e.g. irrigation).

Four Mozambican students and one Postdoc will carry out the research project. This team will be supervised by lecturers of the TU Delft, UNESCO-IHE, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) and other Dutch and Mozambican partners.

This project is part of the Integrated Project “Urbanising Deltas Cities of the World” funded by NW.O


Universities :
TU Delft
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique)

Water supply companies:
Waterleiding Maatschappij Limburg
Vitens Evides International
FIPAG (manager of Maputo’s network)
Association of small-cale independent (water) suppliers (SSIPs) (Mozambique)

Pamodzi (Mozambique)

Consultancy firms:
Royal HaskoningDHV

(Mozambican) Governmental organization:
CRA (Conselho de Regulação do Abastecimento de Água, Drinking water distribution regulator)
DNI (Direcção Nacional de Indústria, industry association)

TAC. (2014). Monitoring progress towards the Millenium Development Goals. Retrieved from
UNECA. (2013). Assessing progress in Africa towards the Millenium Development Goals (p. 144).
WHO. (2013). Progress on saniation and drinkinwag-water - 2013 Update (p. 40).


The objective is to develop integrated social and technological knowledge, technologies and tools that enable the water sector in Maputo to include water reuse in overall planning and design of the urban water system. This ultimately increases freshwater flows in a financially, institutionally, ecologically, technologically and socially (FIETS) sustainable way.
The major steps to achieve this goal are:

  1. Characterize the existing system for collection and treatment of wastewater in the city, taking into consideration international performance indicators;
  2. Investigate the current procedures of (unsafe) wastewater reuse in Maputo;
  3. Implement centralized and de-centralized water-reuse systems in Mozambique for irrigation and industrial use; and
  4. Monitor the system and report results and findings.


  • Reports for technical and non-technical audience (English and Portuguese);
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles;
  • Oral communications (international conferences, workshops, etc.); and
  • Decision support tools



  • Development of a method to evaluate the social and technological potential of water reuse in the context of a developing country;
  • Project, build and run pilots for centralized and de-centralized reuse, according to available sources and needs of potential customers (“water-fit-for-use”); and
  • Create a decision support tools for the implementation of water reuse programs in other (developing), taking into consideration technical, social and economic aspects.


  • Reduce risk associated with reuse of untreated wastewater;
  • Reduction of use of freshwater for non-human consumption; and
  • Capacity building: training of four Mozambican PhD students, eight MSc, eight BSc students. Vocational training of operators at the FIPAG academy.

Project location

Project partners

  • IHE Delft | Institute for Water Education
  • Royal HaskoningDHV
  • TU Delft
  • VEI B.V.