Donor confidence in Malawi Government improves as World Bank provides US$145m grant

Malawians have every reason to smile following the restoration of donor confidence in their government, with the World Bank being the latest bilateral partner to commit financial resources to the Malawi Government.

The Bank – through its International Development Association (IDA) – on March 23, 2023, approved US$145 million (approximately over K145 billion) to improve water and sanitation in Blantyre City.

Hugh Riddell with President Chakwera

The grant comes barely a few days after Norway Deputy Minister of International Affairs Cooperation Bjorg Sandkjaer announced a direct budgetary support to Malawi economy worth MK8 billion.

The World Bank grant aims to improve water supply and sanitation services and enhance the operational and financial efficiency of the Blantyre Water Board.

It is envisaged that nearly half a million people in the city of Blantyre will gain access to safe water, sanitation services, and improved solid waste management services with the support.

Apparently, Blantyre’s water supply system is under severe strain that is expected to worsen with increasing climate change impacts such as the recent Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

Furthermore, the Blantyre Water Board faces major operational and financial challenges, which impede the reliable supply of water to the city.

Additionally, poor sanitation is a major public health issue such that when the city experiences flooding, uncollected solid waste ends up in sewers, drainage systems and water bodies, further exacerbating the floods and increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.

“The project is therefore designed to address the immediate and medium-term water security and sanitation needs and support a long-term solution through the construction of new water sources, independent power sources for water supply infrastructure, network upgrades and improvement in efficiency, sewerage system upgrades, and solid waste management improvements,” reads the statement in part.

World Bank Country Manager for Malawi, Hugh Riddell, said the new Water and Sanitation Project aims to address the underlying structural issues to build resilience to external shocks, including through the institutional strengthening of the Blantyre Water Board itself.

“As we see from the ongoing cholera outbreak and the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, very poor access to water and sanitation translates into immediate and major public health issues,” said Riddell.

The six-year project, to be implemented by Blantyre Water Board and Blantyre City Council, will focus on investments in water production, network stabilization, leak reduction, renewable energy sources, and water network expansion to unserved areas. It will also contribute to the rehabilitation and upgrading of sewer network and connections, institutional development, and a contingency emergency response to support preparedness and rapid response measures to address disaster, emergency and/or catastrophic events.

The project is part of the Series of Projects (SOPs) until 2032 proposed by the Government of Malawi to support the development of a national water program and to increase water supply and sanitation access by combining various financing instruments to maximize investment efficiency and incentives for strengthening institutional capacity, operational and financial efficiency, and service quality.

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