Swaziland Overview

Published by Swazi Review of Commerce & Industry (Pty) Ltd

Swaziland Water Resources Maguga Dam

Lusip Dam © Inyatsi Construction

While government’s Programme of Action to 2018 promises accelerated support to agriculture via broader access to water for irrigation purposes, Finance Minister Martin Dlamini declared in his 2014/15 Budget Speech that the kingdom is poised to meet Millennium Development Goal No. 7, ‘To halve by 2015 the number of people who do not have access to potable water’. He described this tremendous success as largely thanks to the ongoing contributions made by Swaziland’s development partners.

Minister Dlamini detailed how government had during the preceding decade made substantial progress in terms of increasing access to safe drinking water: with the establishment of 543 new water points - mainly boreholes - rural potable water coverage increased from 40 percent in 2003 to 69 percent by December 2013. And with the interventions planned for 2014, government said that by the beginning of 2015 it expects coverage to have reached 80 percent of the rural population of the country.

To the end of continuing to give the water and sanitation sector the priority it deserves, the Finance Minister announced for the 2014/15 fiscal year an allocation of E179-million to increase coverage countrywide. He said that E30-million was earmarked for rural water projects, including the construction of 800 new boreholes to serve individuals, schools and clinics. Minister Dlamini also announced that implementation of the Nhlangano Water Supply and Sewerage Treatment Project would commence during 2014/15, and allocated E77-million to the realisation of that initiative.



  • E20-million to extend the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP) canal as far as Nsoko, where a private concern is constructing Swaziland’s fourth sugar mill: when the latter is completed an estimated 70 000 people are expected to benefit from the increased demand for sugarcane
  • E75-million for rehabilitation of the canal at Malkerns
  • E10-million for the construction of three more medium-size earth-dams in the Lowveld (two were built there during 2013/14)

The Finance Minister also stated in his Budget Speech that expanding irrigation infrastructure was among the priority interventions identified by government. He told Parliament and the nation that during 2013/14 the Agriculture sector’s major undertaking had been the continued implementation of both the Komati Downstream Development Project (KDDP) and LUSIP. These initiatives, Minister Dlamini said, have already transformed rural livelihoods through crop production and will receive further support going forward. He announced that earmarked for 2014/15 were:

  • E85-million to increase water-availability to farmers within LUSIP, an investment that government expects will create more than 4 000 jobs
  • E18-million for the continuation of farm development under the KDDP through additional irrigation infrastructure

Water & Sanitation

  • E30-million for the construction of 800 new borehole-based water-points in rural areas
  • E77-million to bring to completion by end-2014 the construction of the Nhlangano Water Supply and Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • E77-million for the construction of a new sewerage treatment plant to serve Matsapha

In 2014 the Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC) www.swsc.co.sz marked its first two decades in existence – ‘20 Years of Refreshing Drops’ – and its anniversary year saw the Corporation receive yet another international benchmark while continuously striving to meet its targets and the nation’s Vision 2022.

The new yardstick in question was ISO 9001 (Quality Management) certification for SWSC’s Head Office and Matsapha Water Treatment Plant. Keynote speaker at the celebratory event was the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Jabulile Mashwama, who began by reminding attendees that in its quest to realise its vision of delighting customers, the Corporation implemented a number of activities under the strategic focus areas of customer service and product quality: one major objective of these initiatives was the certification of SWSC facilities. Prior to the ISO 9001 certification, three of the Corporation’s water treatment plants were certified ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management).

Minister Mashwama described ISO 9001 certification as a key standard in the business world as it is internationally recognised. She said that customers are nowadays well versed in quality requirements, hence an organization needs to strategically position itself to continually deliver services and products that meet their ever-changing requirements. The Minister noted that ISO 9001 is a value-add to the Corporation because it will enable it to adopt a process-based approach which has an emphasis on customer focus, feedback and satisfaction. She said this certification will further supplement the SWSC’s recently launched Customer Service Charter* that specifies the Corporation’s obligations to its customers.

*With respect to the supply of water services, SWSC will endeavour to meet and exceed the standards that relate to the following:

  • The water supplied is clear and free from objectionable odour and taste
  • E. coli and total coli forms are not detectable in any 100 ml sample
  • Turbidity of final treated water should be less than five NTU
  • All storage reservoirs will be cleaned at least once in 24 months
  • Customers are given at least two working days’ notice through the media of planned interruptions to services (when, and for how long)
  • Planned interruptions to a customer’s water supply will not be more than 12 times in total in a year in any given area
  • In the case of extended interruptions, planned or unplanned, the Corporation will endeavour to provide access to emergency water supplies at selected central points
  • In the case of interruptions, planned or unplanned, the Corporation will ensure that customers have access to information via its 24-Hour Call Centre
  • Maintenance of water supply infrastructure up to and including the property meter
  • In the case of a multi-resident establishment with a single bulk meter, the Corporation is responsible up to the bulk meter
  • The response time on any request or service shall be as stated in Appendix A1
  • All laws and regulations stipulated in The Water Services Corporation Act No. 12 of 1992 and any other subsequent Acts or amendments are complied with

With respect to wastewater services, SWSC will endeavour to:

  • Provide wastewater services to customers that are connected to its sewer network
  • Provide the customer with wastewater services that meet nationally recognised environmental management standards and laws
  • Take reasonable care in operating its sewerage systems to minimise odour
  • Respond to requests/complaints as per the response times stated in Appendix A1
  • Abide by all laws and regulations stipulated in The Water Services Corporation Act No. 12 of 1992 and any other subsequent Acts or amendments

To achieve ISO 9001 which is aimed at helping organizations find better ways of satisfying customer demands, SWSC first implemented a Quality Management System (QMS) with specifically allocated resources and then trained staff on the subject and its many facets such as gap analysis, corrective action, internal audit and corrective action. Minister Mashwama said that almost all world-class organizations attribute their success to the implementation of a QMS, and that the Corporation’s achievement put it and the country on the global map because it is exactly in line with the kingdom’s striving to attain First World status by 2022. She said that ISO 9001 is based on the continual improvement principle, which is one of the SWSC’s core values and, as such, government hopes that the Corporation will continue to explore new and better ways of attaining its vision.

The Mentor
Rated one of the 10 best public utility companies of its kind on the African continent, the SWSC regularly receives fact-finding and knowledge-sharing delegations from the region and further north. Some visits take the form of low-key consultations, others are more akin to full-blown state occasions. The latter characterised the arrivals of two entourages from Nigeria during 2014, in February and June, respectively. The first to arrive at SWSC headquarters in Ezulwini from Africa’s most populous country comprised lawmakers from Bauchi State, along with members of the Bauchi State Water Board.

They were followed some four months later by a delegation from Taraba State that included local government officials, members of the State Water Supply Agency and high-ranking representatives from the Nigerian United Trading Company. The delegation leader and spokesman was Special Assistant and Guide to the Acting Governor of Taraba State, civil engineer Hosanna Dajan: he said during a welcoming function that the group had come to spend five days learning about ways in which to meet the water challenges of their home territory.

Minister Mashwama used her turn on the podium to encourage the SWSC to remain a model from which others could learn by maintaining the highest possible standards and delivering world-class service while utilising the best of infrastructure. She said that to retain its position among the best water producers in Africa and to stay worthy of mentor status, the Corporation should be a conducive environment for learning. The Minister concluded by saying that even though a vast country such as Nigeria might come to the SWSC for guidance and advice, Swaziland was yet to realise its own full potential with regard to the provision of clean drinking water and water-based sanitation services.

The Projects
Mid-year saw SWSC MD, Peter Bhembe, disclose that the Corporation has in the past three years invested more than E300-million in water treatment and waste management projects that were currently under way and some of which were expected to be commissioned before the end of the year. He listed the largest of these undertakings as being the Matsapha Waste Management Treatment Plant, the Nhlangano Water Treatment Plant – both nearing completion at the time - and the Nhlangano Waste Management Treatment Plant, the construction phase of which was scheduled to commence towards the end of third-quarter 2014 and completion thereof forecast for early 2015.

Bhembe said that it was the SWSC’s intention to increase water accessibility and provide waste management services to almost every Swazi living in the designated areas and beyond by 2015 – in accordance with the UN Declaration - and that the Corporation felt that it had already achieved that goal. What was anticipated, he added, was that by 2018 the SWSC will have the majority of the population accessing clean potable water. Towards achieving these targets, the MD disclosed that in addition to the just-mentioned projects the SWSC was busy with extension-initiatives that include taking water from Sikhuphe to the whole of Hlane and working in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development’s Micro-Projects Unit to bring water services to many other rural communities throughout the country.

Grand Opening
His Majesty King Mswati III made reference to the Corporation’s mentoring activities when late September witnessed the official unveiling of the E200-million Nhlangano Water Treatment Plant at Maseyisini in the Shiselweni region. The monarch said through his representative, Prince Masitsela, that the nation is encouraged by the international recognition of SWSC’s achievements and the Corporation being one of the few utilities in Africa that are sharing their expertise for the benefit of the continent as a whole.

The Nhlangano Water Treatment Plant will benefit more than 100 000 Swazis through its capacity to supply areas as far-flung as Sihlutse, and boasts a projected life-span of 30 years. The king described this as very commendable progress, and he praised the Corporation for setting ambitious goals and strategies to ensure its long-term sustainability through increasing its customer-base and quality of services.

He expressed his happiness that another multimillion Emalangeni water development will soon take place in the region, that connecting supply from Lavumisa to Matsanjeni and Somntongo, and he also made mention of the major undertaking funded by the African Development Bank that had just been launched in Ezulwini. His Majesty said that these projects and others are well appreciated by the entire Swazi nation and are furthermore essential to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. 

The king’s message also included his pleasure at noting that the Corporation places great emphasis on meeting customer needs via its new Charter of delivering a quality product through excellent service. He said that the SWSC’s growing list of ISO certificates conform to world-class standards in all respects, yet in some countries people are warned not to drink tap water. The Corporation had made it possible that Swaziland is not among those countries, His Majesty said, and deserves to be congratulated for attaining certification of high standards that go a long way to ensuring that the kingdom remains competitive as an investment destination for business.

The Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA) www.kobwa.co.za is a bi-national entity formed in 1993 through the Treaty on the Development and Utilisation of the Water Resources of the Komati River Basin which was signed in 1992 between Swaziland and South Africa. The initial purpose of KOBWA was to implement Phase 1 of the Komati River Basin Development Project - the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Driekoppies Dam in South Africa and the Maguga Dam in Swaziland. The completion of Maguga Dam marked the end of Phase 1 of the Komati River Basin Development Project and KOBWA now focuses on the operation and maintenance of the dams and related infrastructure. KOBWA’s four departments are:

  • Water Management Department: Responsible for planning and management of all activities on the bulk infrastructure, systems operation, systems development, emergency preparedness and other related functions
  • Corporate Support Department: Responsible for providing Human Resource and Information management support to the entire organization
  • Environment and Development Department: Responsible for the implementation of KOBWA’s Environmental Monitoring programme for the Komati Basin, as well as the Resettlement programme for persons affected by the construction of the Komati River Basin Project
  • Finance Department: Responsible for full control of the repayment of loans, budgeting and financing development projects and procurement functions

In its most recently published annual report, that for 2012/13, KOBWA top management disclosed that a process of repositioning the entity was in progress. A proposal to amend the Treaty and reposition KOBWA in the context of the current operating environment has been submitted to the two Party Governments through the Joint Water Commission (JWC). Internally, a process is underway to prepare a new five-year Strategic Plan. The entity has a lot to offer, drawing from its 21 years of experience in trans-boundary water resource infrastructure development, so it is therefore imperative that KOBWA explores other spheres of operation in order to maximise the return on investment by the Party States - hence the proposed Treaty review and comprehensive strategic planning.

Water Resources Management
The water year 2012/13 was another good one in terms of water harvesting, with enough to serve the users’ needs. It ended with the dams at full capacity, thus laying a good foundation for maximum water allocation in the following year. A sedimentation survey of Maguga Dam showed that in over 10 years of storage its capacity has declined by only about 0.3 percent, thanks to careful control of developments in the catchment by the Party States. On 27 August 2012 an earth tremor centred at Maguga Dam caused no serious damage, but exposed the need to replace the existing seismometers in the three seismic stations around the dam. New ones were procured at a cost of about E600 000 and will be installed in the coming year.

Environment and Compliance
KOBWA continued to monitor the environmental impacts of the managed infrastructure on the surrounding areas. The entity complied with environmental requirements in both Party States. The notable trend in the monitoring was the sporadic spikes in E. coli levels in the two dams that are associated with flash-flooding. These can be mitigated through controlled settlement and provision of proper sanitation facilities in nearby settlements. The KOBWA Board is concerned about the increasing density of settlements and particularly encroachments into the dams’ flood-lines. This has been communicated to the Party States through the JWC and it is hoped that the situation will be redressed accordingly.

Maguga Dam
The operations and maintenance of the dam and all its associated structures are still in accordance with the respective manuals and there was no sign of structural failure detected from the indicator instruments and visual inspections. Major undertakings carried out were:

  • The inspection of the outlet system and associated valves was done in November 2012. The internal surfaces, pipe anchors, butterfly valves and sleeve valves were visited and showed no major cause for concern. The internal pipe surfaces and butterfly valves had a number of corrosion blisters developing that were opened and re-coated. The two main outlet sleeve valves were stripped and sandblasted, while the ancillary sleeve valves were only stripped, repainted and reinstalled.
  • The integral bio-filter wheel of the mini treatment plant that serves the Maguga Dam offices and clinic was overhauled in November 2012: this planned maintenance activity is undertaken yearly to ensure that the effluent is treated adequately before draining into the soil.
  • Bathymetric Survey: The contract between KOBWA and MHP Geomatics was concluded and works completed in March 2013. The works included the bathymetric portion of the survey done at full capacity and the remaining topographic survey done thereafter. The outcome showed no major changes from the original elevation-capacity-surface area.
  • Dam Monitoring Instruments: In accordance with the supplier-specific planned maintenance requirements, a service provider was on site in August 2012 to carry out the annual de-airing and maintenance of the dam monitoring instruments. In its completion report the service provider noted that the operation and maintenance of the dam monitoring instruments were up to standard and the instruments were working well.

Water-Quality Monitoring
KOBWA has in place a comprehensive initiative often referred to as the Aquatic
Ecosystem Monitoring Programme that consists of various components which in totality give rise to status-monitoring of the component rivers and dams:

  • Physicochemical water-quality monitoring
  • Monitoring of aquatic alien invasive plants in the rivers and dams
  • Real-time monitoring of selected physicochemical parameters
  • Monitoring of microbiological parameters e.g. E. coli, coli forms
  • Biological monitoring
  • Ecological Water Requirements monitoring

Assessment of the water quality from the dams is based on fitness for use and is done for the four key water users in the Komati - irrigation, domestic, recreational and the aquatic ecosystem. The 2012/2013 water-quality monitoring data for physicochemical parameters showed that the water is generally in a good condition in the river for all water user sectors, while the microbiological monitoring showed a significant risk associated with the consumption of water from the natural river without treatment. The levels of E. coli at most monitoring stations were, however, low and within the guidelines, especially for recreational and irrigation purposes.

In an effort to increase efficiency of water quality analysis, KOBWA has established a water quality laboratory to conduct both physicochemical and microbiological analysis. Furthermore, KOBWA has opted to have the laboratory accredited in accordance with ISO 17025 standard. In an effort to ensure that the KOBWA lab adheres to these requirements and is eventually accredited, the entity has implemented considerable improvements in terms of capacitating that comes with instrumentation acquisition and external inputs such as being a member of the National Laboratory Association and participating in its Water Microbiology Proficiency Testing Scheme.


The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) is established according to the Water Act of 2003 as the secretariat to the National Water Authority. It is comprised of three government sections within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy:

  • Water Resources Section – Responsible for the management and development of surface resources, which includes the development of dams, monitoring river flows and the control of water pollution
  • Rural Water Supply Section - Responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of rural water schemes
  • Hydrogeology and Drilling Section – Responsible for the exploration, drilling and management of groundwater resources

Rationale and Aims of the Strategic Plan:

  • To translate its objectives into action
  • To reinforce the integration of the sections that exist within the DWA
  • To ensure that operations remain focused on the agreed Key Result Areas
  • To guide the operations of the Department and ensure that resources are correctly channelled to identified priorities

The DWA’s vision is to contribute to national economic prosperity and social upliftment through sustainable water resources development, supply and management, while its declared mission is to provide adequate water resources at acceptable standards ensuring sustainable use, development and management, taking into account the environment.

Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) has the following Vision: To be Africa’s leading facilitator of socioeconomic development in rural areas by using water as the catalyst. The parastatal’s mission is to empower local communities in designated areas to attain improved quality of life and be able to sustain it.

The company’s philosophy is based on a people-centred approach. This key value holds that the aim of helping others to achieve sustainable development cannot be achieved without empowering the recipients to do things for themselves. Communities within each SWADE Project Development Area (PDA), such as KDDP and LUSIP, are thus assisted - via access to water and interventions such as training - in developing agricultural and spin-off businesses that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This process allows PDA beneficiaries to take full ownership, responsibility and accountability for their undertakings.

SWADE pursues its mandate through a holistic empowerment process that transforms the mindset of people through training to influence positively their Attitudes, Competency and Application. This ACA Process is implemented by methods that range from training modules to industrial theatre and on-site demonstrations to traditional story-telling techniques. SWADE also collaborates with relevant government Ministries and departments, as well as NGOs and development partners from home and abroad.