Greater coverage of improved quality WASH services in Mzuzu, Malawi

Local authorities join forces with VEI and Plan

Posted on 29 August 2014


Mzuzu, located in the north of Malawi, is Malawi's rapidly growing third city. About 50% of the population lives in informal settlements. Problems faced are limited provision of water and sanitation (WASH) services. The Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) is mandated to provide drinking water, but can only provide this service to 68% of the population.

The responsibility for providing sanitation services shifted from the Mzuzu City Council (MCC) to the NRWB, but transfer of duties, personnel and funding is not carried out yet. While septic tanks are used by 20% of the population, around 80% of the population in Mzuzu still uses poorly constructed and shared pit latrines that pollute ground water. 

The NRWB and MCC lack capacity and coordination to improve access to WASH services in Mzuzu, but realise that this is urgently required, considering the growing demand for water and recurring water scarcity. 

The NRWB and MCC join forces with VEI and Plan to sustainably increase the financial, technical and managerial capacity of the NRWB and MCC  in order to:

(1) increase water efficiency,

(2) reduce ground water pollution and

(3) increase coverage of WASH services to low-income households.

Plan and VEI (VEI) are working together since 2013 in this four-year project in a public-private partnership with a grant from the Sustainable Water Fund.


The aim of this collaboration is

  • to improve the technical, financial and management skills of employees of the NRWB and the MCC in order
  • to realize greater coverage of improved quality WASH services to households with low incomes


Intended results:

  • to decrease the water loss through leakage from  40-45% in 2012 to 20% in 2018;
  • to increase the availability of water with at least 100,000 m3 per month for 50,000 people;
  • to reduce the household water consumption in Mzuzu by 10% through more efficient use of water in households (in 2016);
  • to increase in the income of the NRWB so that 150% of the operating costs are covered (in 2015);
  • use of water-free (ecological) sanitation systems by at least 500 new households;
  • to Increase access to water supplies for households from 68% to 80%;
  • to construct  at least 10 new water kiosks and four communal toilet blocks on markets;
  • to improve the functioning of all existing water kiosks in low-income neighborhoods in Mzuzu;
  • to improve the capacity of the Northern Regional Water Board and Mzuzu City Council to make their services more efficiently and effectively is.

Current status
The Water Demand Management Project commenced in May 2013 and the inception phase (Result 1) was successfully completed within the designated nine months (May 2013 to January 2014). It was an immense work to complete all the 18 sub-results but due to the dedication of the project manager and all the partners involved we were able to complete them all. With the completion of Result 1 a foundation has been laid for the implementing activities to be conducted in the remaining 5 year of the project. 

Project location

Project partners

  • Plan Nederland
  • VEI B.V.