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Water tank demand rises

...highlights concerns over water infrastructure in Zambia

WATER tanks and water hygiene have come to the forefront as the coronavirus pandemic is expected to impact poorest communities in Africa who have limited access to water for basic sanitation and hygiene.
Abeco Tanks, https://abecotanks.co.za/ the leader in hygienic water storage solutions in Africa for over 35 years, has seen a dramatic rise in demand for water tanks on the African continent, as governments scramble to provide under-served communities with access to water during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Water scarcity is not a new concern or struggle,” says Ramos. “According to the latest UN World Water Development Report, despite the importance of providing water and sanitation to improve lives everywhere, there has been a chronic under funding of water infrastructure around the world, including on the African continent.
According to the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) more than 67 percent of Zambia’s population lacked access to basic water sanitation.
“We need to get Water back on the health agenda,” says Ramos. “There has been greater emphasis, and spend, on the treatment of water-associated diseases than on safe water supply and sanitation.”
“It is disturbing that data from US funded projects shows that only a third of funding goes towards water water related projects with the rest spent annually on treatment of preventable water related diseases. This gap in funding, and lack of local investment in water infrastructure within Africa, is now glaringly obvious during Covid-19. Access to clean water and safe sanitation reduces the transmission of diseases and is vital to the health and wellbeing of communities.”
Abeco has been providing water storage solutions to schools, hospitals, hotels, NGO’s and banks in Zambia including the Kazungula WTW water project, Barclays Bank head office, Kitwe School, University Teaching Hospital to name a few.
According to Ramos, the sudden demand experienced in the last two months means the pandemic has triggered a rush on implementing small plastic tanks as a part of a stop-gap solution, instead the right storage solution can also help address systemic problems with the water supply.
He is particularly concerned over short-term measures to get water to communities as a stop-gap. The approach of providing small semi-permanent tanks, while it is commendable if it does not provide more water it is an incomplete solution.
There are a variety of reasons small semi-permanent tanks are not feasible:
• These tanks are too small for the needs of communities
• Queuing poses a risk of spreading the disease
• Taps will need to be sanitized
• Tankers will be required to fill up small sized tanks around the clock and consistently, which can become a logistical nightmare
• Communities who experience a lack of water, usually store water for cooking and washing rather than for hand washing so education is needed
• Tanks also require a foundation and therefore need to be implemented in tandem with a stand or concrete slab
• Rainwater tanks are not a solution during winter months

He believes more permanent solutions should be considered including:
• Larger sized tanks (more than 50 000 liters in size). Some tanks can hold up to 50 million litres of water and are far more effective to meet the needs of the average community.
• Larger sized tanks need to be topped up more frequently compared to small tanks, reducing the logistics complexity of refilling and preventing an interruption in water supply.
• By connecting one or a few big tanks to a main water supply, the solutions we implement now during the global pandemic, can become a longer-term measure until water infrastructure is piped in or upgraded.
• By installing bigger volume tanks multiple taps can be inserted 1,5m apart, which are not available on plastic tanks; more taps will reduce queueing times and allow for effective social distancing.
“While water tanks are only one part of a holistic solution, they can be an important way for African countries, including Zambia, to supply water in larger tanks by connecting them to a water source – either to a main water supply in urban areas, or to a river or reservoir in rural areas.”
Ramos concludes by saying that short-term solutions are not the answer to the systemic water problem in our communities. Water tanks should be viewed as a longer-term strategy to bank water and make it available to communities until water infrastructure projects are implemented.

For more information https://abecotanks.co.za/
About Abeco
Abeco Tanks is a pioneer in water storage solutions and a champion of water as the most important currency in Africa. The Johannesburg-based company has been operating in the continent for over 35 years, designing, manufacturing, and installing innovative water storage solutions. The company operates in 35 countries across the globe including Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. With a 269,000 square foot manufacturing facility, employing over 120 people, Abeco Tanks has become a definitive leader in its space. Abeco has erected more water tanks in Southern Africa than any other company and their tanks have become beacons of hope in difficult times. – ABECO TANKS

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