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Bowser uplifts Bulawayo

Implementation: June 2010-December 2012
Bulawayo Water and Sanitation Emergency Response (Bowser) is funded by an Australian government aid programme and is being implemented by a partnership, consisting of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Dabane Trust and World Vision. 

This is a unique project where a funder, AusAID has worked with a non-governmental organisation (World Vision) and a local authority (Bulawayo City Council) to tackle a problem that posed a threat to the wellbeing of residents of the city.

Donor                                               Contribution
AusAID  —                       US$7 224 352
World  Vision
Australia  U —                US$1 108 809
Total U  —                      US$8 333 161

Project goal
Reduce vulnerability to waterborne diseases in Bulawayo through improved sewerage and water supply systems, as well as an improved customer care and financial sustainability of the BCC in the provision of water and sanitation services.

Expected project outcomes:

To enable at least 450 000 residents in Bulawayo to have access to a functioning sewage system;

To provide at least 450 000 residents in Bulawayo with improved access to clean water through the city piped systems;

Bulawayo and its council have increased hygiene awareness and means to maximise its resources;

Bulawayo has increased financial sustainability and improved customer care in the provision of water and sanitation services.

Project achievements to date:

The project is 94% completed.
Except a few activities under “Water and ICT”, the project implementation team has achieved almost every set target. Most of the activities remaining are expected to be completed in the coming two months.

Sanitation component

The rehabilitation of nine pump stations has been completed, sand traps and manholes were successfully cleared with some of them raised. 250km of sewage pipe blockages were cleared using mechanical jetting equipment, the first of its kind in the country, and collapsed main outfall sewers were repaired/rehabilitated. Rehabilitation of Magwegwe inlet ponds has also been completed.

Water supply component

Main water supply and distribution line leaks were repaired, major rehabilitation of distribution lines across high-density suburbs completed. Zone meters were also installed, and the mapping of the locations of these meters was done using the GIS system, which is another component of the project.

The Ncema Water Works chemical dosing equipment were upgraded and commissioned; pumps and motors were repaired at Fern-hill and Ncema Water Works. Filters and clarifiers rehabilitation work is currently ongoing at Ncema Water Works,  with expected date of completion being the end of this month.

Participatory health and hygiene education (PHHE) component
Since its inception, Bowser used the participatory health and hygiene education approach to convey messages, awareness and knowledge to the residents, schools, churches and representatives.

Several sessions and means used and held, including roadshows and different campaigns. In addition to this, billboards were erected at strategic positions, usually along major roads and they carry health and hygiene messages. Several health and hygiene promotion pamphlets, posters, bumper stickers, disk holders and handbooks were circulated as part of PHHE activity of the project.

Geographic information systems mapping

Equipment was bought to enable BCC to map and capture data required to develop a Utility Network Database. This database will enable the BCC to analyse the conditions, status and characteristics of these utilities for more effective operation and scheduled maintenance.

Currently, more than 70% of the utility infrastructure has been mapped with critical attribute data. The GIS section has also supported the already finalised water and sanitation master plan study. World Vision has handed over the responsibility to BCC and currently run by trained BCC staff with ongoing support from EWS (Durban).

Call centre

Under the project, a call centre was established. This will be the hub to receive customer complaints. The call centre will be launched this month. Installation of radio and PABX equipment has already been done. Training of call centre agents has been done and the call centre is now operating 24 hours a day. EWS (Durban) has been playing an instrumental role in establishing the call centre;, they provided a logging software for data capturing, assisted in capacity building trainings for the call centre agents, supported the development of service level agreements and customer charter.

ICT component
The entire Local Area Network, as well as the Wide Area Network for BCC was upgraded. The LAN was upgraded to 1GB speed with new Cisco Managed Switches and CAT6 cabling installed. A 2GB internet link was also established.

Cisco Prime Software was procured to enhance and ease the management of the LAN. The WAN was resuscitated to operate using the Alvarion WiMAX system.  Currently, all the revenue collection houses  at district offices are connected to the central server, which is at the main revenue hall. Real time account and payment of actual bill have been made possible.

The BCC ICT policy will be adapted from a comprehensive ICT policy for municipalities that has been received from GIZ. Consultations will be made and a final policy will be endorsed before the end of the project.

Handheld data loggers have been procured; currently the billing software provider is working on an interface to digitise water meter reading and data transfer to the BIQ system. Interactive Website development is ongoing with expected date of completion around mid-October.

Capacity building trainings and exchange visits

Under the Bowser project civil designer software package has been procured and engineers from all   departments, water, sewer and road have been trained. Customer care training for 800 staff member of the city council is ongoing (Councilors had also attended), different IT trainings related to the billing system, website development and BIQ system management and troubleshooting have been completed. IBM server maintenance and management training has also been completed. Cisco switches management training has been provided for the IT team.

Different exchange visits for engineers and technicians have been organised to EWS (Durban). Among other undertakings in relation to the Bowser project and the master plan study technical support the Durban team provided short-term trainings for engineers, finance and IT staff. One senior engineer has also attended one-month training in Australia supported by the AusAID.

Citizens supporting service delivery role out

The city council has indorsed the role out of the initiative however details like how, when and where yet to be communicated to World Vision and the BCC PR department. The concept submitted and the methodology proposed is accepted and that consultants have been engaged from South Africa trainings of the Residents’ Association will commence soon.

Bowser lesson learned on Urban PHHE and partnership

This was been done in  June; final report is submitted which World Vision is planning to share widely within and outside. The learning was shared also during the Urban Forum this September in Italy by World Vision Australia and World Vision Zimbabwe. Bulawayo City Council will also be represented.

The following IT equipment has been bought and handed over to BCC:

•    3IBM power servers
•    30 handheld data loggers
•    1 heavy duty line printer
•    6 laptops
•    3 Toshiba Qosmios
•    High accuracy GPS units
•    GIS software
•    2 IBM 6500 heavy duty printers
•    120 desktops with wireless network cards;
•    32 till slip printers for receipts
•    36 system printer
•    Two Nissan Trucks (single cab) were also bought and delivered
•    A Toyota Land Cruiser was also delivered to Dabane Trust
•    Fittings, pipes, valves, pumps protective closings, rodding equipment

Mayor hails call centre

Message from Bulawayo mayor,  Thaba P Moyo

THE city of Bulawayo is proud to be the first municipality to launch a service call centre in an effort to increase interaction with its residents and with its stakeholders.

We are especially proud this week that our efforts have also been recognised at a national level as the Bulawayo City Council came first in the Customer Service Award in the Public Sector category at the Service Excellence Awards which were held last weekend in Harare.

The awards were organised by the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe (Ccaz).

We are humbled that our work has already been recognised, and it shows our commitment in spearheading customer service standards and upholding the spirit of “ubuntu”.

The setting up the call centre would not have happened without the assistance of our partners under the Bulawayo Water and Sanitation Emergency Response project (Bowser), who include Australian Aid and World Vision Australia, the funders of the project, World Vision Zimbabwe and Dabane Trust.

We are also grateful for the assistance that we have received from our sister city Ethekwini Municipality, especially the Ethekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) department which has been instrumental in the design of the call center, development of training material and carrying out training of the call centre staff.

It is important to highlight how the city came about the concept of establishing a call centre. This has been on the city’s strategic plan  for a while but limited funding had affected our ability to actually implement and set up a call centre for Bulawayo. Our partnership under the Bowser project has as a result fulfilled a long-time dream of the BCC.

The call centre under the Bowser project was conceptualised in the second phase of the project after observing that there was a need for the municipality to increase interaction with the residents and also provide a channel through which residents complaints could be recorded, implemented and followed up, while residents are also given feedback.

The partners are aware that residents need a channel through which they can report water bursts, sewer bursts and other service problems, while also providing a platform through which the municipality can monitor these and ensure that they are addressed with efficiency. As a result, the Bowser partners have been working hard at ensuring that we improve the services we offer the residents in water and sanitation.

This has also resultantly led to the improvement of the financial system for the council as it has a contributing factor to the water and sanitation services offered by Bulawayo City Council. These activities were all in an effort to ensure that the relationship we have with the people of Bulawayo is improved and there is always constant feedback on the services we offer.

We are glad that as we move towards the launch of the call centre, we now have a centralised and formal system for receiving customer complaints and providing feedback. Our call centre will provide a tracking mechanism of services against their level standards within the BCC with the aim of improving response times for the implementation of services.

We are aware that the consumers and rate payers are of paramount importance in our city and as such should be satisfied with the services that the municipality offers. The need to augment good services with good customer care is being realised through customer care training that staff members have undergone. Training in customer care will be ongoing so as to sustain change in organisational culture and ultimately in the council customer relationship management programme.

This has also been done to ensure that the call centre runs smoothly, capacitating all members of staff with knowledge on council operations and also how to deal with the customers. BCC is proud to have been trained by Zimhost in customer care.

While a lot of effort has been made by the municipality and Bowser partners to ensure that residents have access to improved service, the resident also has a role to play in ensuring success of the various initiatives which have been done in the city. Bulawayo was chosen as a city to pilot an engagement programme with its customers, which will provide an opportunity to discuss the services with residents on a constant basis.

Bulawayo has chosen five pilot wards where the project will be implemented and these would lead to the coverage of the whole city. I would like to call upon the residents of Bulawayo to ensure that this project is a success.

As the first city to pilot this project, it is our hope that at the end of the day, all municipalities in Zimbabwe will be able to use our case study to carry out similar programmes of community engagement in their respective areas.

The Bowser project is drawing to a close and I must say that we as the Bowser partners have managed to meet the project objective of reducing the vulnerability to waterborne diseases in Bulawayo through improved sewerage and water supply systems as well as an improved customer care and financial sustainability of the Bulawayo City Council in the provision of water and sanitation services.
Masiye phambili – Lets go forward.

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