Sustainable freshwater supply in Maputo, Mozambique

researcher: André Arsénio

The main objective of this project is to develop integrated social and technological knowledge, technologies and tools that enable the water sector in Maputo to include water reuse in overall planning and design of the urban water system. This ultimately increases freshwater flows in a financially, institutionally, ecologically, technologically and socially (FIETS) sustainable way.

Introduction and approach
Maputo, like other Deltas cities in developing countries suffers from i) freshwater shortage, ii) improper sanitation, iii) limited access to safe drinking water and iv) reuse of untreated wastewater (e.g. for irrigation). Furthermore, despite the good work done in the country regarding water supply and sanitation since the independency from the colonial power in 1975, there is still a long road ahead. In the country more than 50 % of the population still lacks access to an improved water source (WHO, 2013) and according to UNECA (2013), Mozambique has demonstrated a “slowed rate of progress” regarding access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, with TAC (2014) predicting that the goals for both indicators will not be reached in 2015 as planned, but only after 2025.

The following film, made by UN Habitat, presents some of the problems related to water distribution in Mozambique:

Thus, this project aims at developing centralized and de-centralized wastewater reuse systems to supply farmers and small industries. While the former will be located at the existing wastewater treatment plant of Maputo, the later, will be located in the peri-urban areas (transition between rural and urban) of the city. In this way it is possible to alleviate the pressure on the already strained water sources that supply the city. These reuse systems will be projected to produce “water-fit-for-use”: adequate the level of treatment to the quality standards for a specific use (e.g. irrigation).

Future work

  1. Demonstrate to the local authorities, the suppliers and the local communities that water reuse is a safe and sustainable water source;
  2. Quantify the risk associated with unsafe reuse of (untreated) wastewater (e.g. for irrigation);
  3. Select the best pilot areas for de-centralized water treatment considering the following criteria: i) availability of wastewater, ii) existence of a sewer network, iii) physical and chemical characteristics of the wastewater, iv) presence of potential customers, and v) available space.
  4. Project and build pilot installations for centralized and de-centralized wastewater treatment.

Scientific relevance

  • Development of a method to evaluate the social and technological potential of water reuse in the context of a developing country;
  • Project, build and run pilots for centralized and de-centralized reuse, according to available sources  and needs of potential customers (“water-fit-for-use”); and
  • Create a decision support tools for the implementation of water reuse programs in other (developing), taking into consideration technical, social and economic aspects.

Social relevance

  • Reduce risk associated with reuse of untreated wastewater;
  • Reduction of use of freshwater for non-human consumption; and
  • Capacity building: training of four Mozambican PhD students, eight MSc, eight BSc students. Vocational training of operators at the FIPAG academy.


  • TAC. (2014). Monitoring progress towards the Millenium Development Goals. Retrieved from
  • UNECA. (2013). Assessing progress in Africa towards the Millenium Development Goals (p. 144).
  • WHO. (2013). Progress on saniation and drinkinwag-water - 2013 Update (p. 40).