MALAWI: World Bank rejects Lilongwe-Salima drinking water project

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MALAWI: World Bank rejects Lilongwe-Salima drinking water project©goldenjack/Shutterstock

The World Bank is expressing concern about the feasibility and relevance of the Lilongwe-Salima drinking water project that is expected to end the water crisis in Malawi's capital city. This refusal of funding is a hard blow for the Khato Civils company, which has already revised its budget downwards.

The World Bank’s decision comes as a heavy blow to Malawians, especially those in the capital Lilongwe who are putting a lot of hope in the realisation of the Lilongwe-Salima drinking water project. The World Bank, which is to provide part of the funding needed to implement the project, is expressing concern about the feasibility of this project whose objective is to reduce water shortages in Lilongwe.

According to Hugh Riddell, the World Bank’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa, the project has been presented to the bank since April 2017. It was then discussed at the financial institution’s annual meeting the same year. “A follow-up letter was sent by the World Bank on November 7th, 2017, sharing our concerns about the feasibility of the project. The Bank team remains available to support further technical studies, through our global pool of experts, if there are updates on project details,” said Hugh Riddell, in a letter to Chauncy Simwaka, Malawi’s Treasury Secretary.

Areas of uncertainty

In the same correspondence, Hugh Riddell refers to the Diamphwe Dam, the construction of which will provide drinking water and irrigation in the central region where the capital Lilongwe is located. The World Bank finds it incongruous to invest in the construction of this multi-purpose dam and the implementation of the Lilongwe-Salima drinking water project which will have its source in Lake Malawi. The World Bank believes that the simultaneous implementation of the two projects could result in excess water and an additional burden on the local utility Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and the Malawi treasury.

The World Bank, which remains in favour of the project, is asking the Malawian authorities to settle for a project to supply the capital Lilongwe and the surrounding localities. Be that as it may, this refusal of funding is a hard blow for Khato Civils, which is struggling to look like it will be able to raise funds for the realisation of its project. The South African company has even been forced to revise its budget downwards, from 400 million to 298 million dollars.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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