Investigating the management of unaccounted for water for Lilongwe Water Board, Malawi

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is currently unable to meet Lilongwe City's water demand as evidenced by low supply coverage (65%) and intermittent water supply in the city. One of the major challenges is high levels of unaccounted for water (UFW) reported at 37% (2012), higher than the recommended 23% for developing countries. This study, done in Lilongwe City (Areas 15, 18 and 28), investigated water losses and partitioned UFW into real and apparent losses. Data collection involved data logging for pressures and flows at selected points in the network, meter testing, and water audits. This study estimated an average UFW of 37.5% for Lilongwe City and 33%, 44% and 20%, respectively, in the specific study areas (Areas 15, 18 and 28). The UFW in Lilongwe City was higher than recommended and was also higher than recommended in Areas 15 and 18 but within the acceptable limit for Area 28. High UFW levels in Areas 15 and 18 were mainly driven by real losses. The LWB should consider partitioning of its UFW to establish the main drivers, implement active leak detection programme and active pressure management in areas with high pressures.

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