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Government urged to control water boards’ decisions

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The government has been urged to pay more attention to the management of water by the country’s water boards to ensure that the precious commodity is easily accessed.

Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi has expressed concern that water has become unaffordable due to high tariffs, thus denying individuals access to water.

Reports show that the five water boards in the country have proposed tariff hikes of at least 15 percent to the government.

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According to Lilongwe Water Board, the increase is to cover the resettlement plan for Diamphwe project after the World Bank withdrew financial support while, in the case of other water boards, the proposals are due to an increase in operating costs.

But Bvumbwe, who is also Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority Board Chairperson, said it is high time the government regulated decisions of the utility boards for water to remain manageable.

“Water boards are making decisions by themselves and I think we need other organisations and authorities to check on what they are doing. Water is very basic [and] it’s very unfortunate that it [the price] is going up in our cities. Water boards need to be reminded that they should not think of making too much money,” he said

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He added that, much as the boards need money to continue operating, they have to tread cautiously and not subject consumers to suffering.

“Yes, they need a little bit of money to provide clean water but not to make too much profit out of it [service provision]. Water is a service to the people and water boards are supposed to provide those services. To make money out of it is immoral,” he said

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi has handed solar-powered water tanks worth over $300,000 (approximately K219 million) to Traditional Authority Masula in Lilongwe.

Bvumbwe said the purpose is to bring water closer to homes and reduce the struggle that people, especially women, face in order to access water.

Senior Group Village Head Matsimbe commended the church for the project, saying it will ease water challenges that communities face.

The water project is a component of a poverty alleviation project which is being supported by Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland.

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