Sustainable freshwater supply in urbanizing Maputo, Mozambique

The research focuses on reducing water shortages by enabling the local water sector in Maputo to include wastewater reclamation in the overall planning and design of the urban water system.

Key audiences to be targeted during the research are:

  • Policy makers (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Works and Housing), public and private service providers (water and sanitation) and regulators
  • NGOs and private consultancy companies (Mozambican and Dutch) with experience in social and technical projects in the areas of water, sanitation and health




Project leader: Prof. ir. L.C. (Luuk) Rietveld (Delft University of Technology)

Consortium partners: M. Sandra (Universidade Eduaordo Mondlane (UEM), M. Rusca (UNESCO-IHE), N.P. Matsinhe (Universidade Eduaordo Mondlane (UEM), T. Ramaker (Vitens Evides International), E. Machava (FIPAG)

Consortium partners (institutions): Universidade Eduaordo Mondlane (UEM), UNESCO-IHE, Universidade Eduaordo Mondlane (UEM), Vitens Evides International, FIPAG


The project is now on its third year (start Feb 2014) with the PhDs ending now their first/first‐and‐half year. We now have a clear idea of what is necessary to accomplish our objectives, who are the stakeholders that must be further involved, and the ones that are willing to participate and which (potential) hurdles we might face in the near future. This was possible due to the involvement of several BSc and MSc students. This period also allowed us a very important realization, which is valid for Maputo and for other Deltaic Cities in the Global South: sanitation, water supply and water resources management are intrinsically connected. This is something that is alsohighlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which now make clear references to “water cycle” and integrated water resources management”, concepts that are intimately connected with water reclamation18. In fact, while in Maputo untreated wastewater and fecal sludge contaminates groundwater with nitrate and fecal coliforms, water is pumped from far (40 km at present, 100 km in the very near future) to provide an ever‐growing economy and population, even increasing environmental problems. We propose a paradigm change, whereby adequately treated wastewater can cover part of the needs and no longer contaminates the aquifers; these aquifers can then be used as strategic reserve for future droughts, increasing water security for the city.

We have done good progressing towards finalizing the literature reviews (Results 1.1, 2.1 and 2.5) and towards quantifying the potential water savings from water reclamation (Result 1.2 ). For a more detailed description please refer to Section 3b. until the end of the year, after finalizing their literature reviews, the PhD candidates will have a better insight on what are the best options to implement water reclamation in the city, both regarding necessary technology and social/governance changes and adaptions. Afterwards, the PhD candidates will start field‐work, with the identification of pilot areas, organizing surveys, interviews, enquiries and laboratory experiments.


Water reuse offers great potential for reducing water shortages in urbanizing deltas. However, suitable technologies and approaches lack for sustainable reuse in the social setting in development countries. The overall objective of the integrated project is to reduce water shortages in Maputo by enabling the local water sector to include water reuse in overall planning and design of the urban water system.

Knowledge gaps exist on integrated technical and social aspects of productive use of wastewater in development countries. Little research has been published in this field. The research challenge is to obtain fundamental social and technological knowledge to assess and predict effectiveness and sustainability of integrated water reuse strategies.

To achieve this the research will focus on understanding and testing centralized and decentralized water reuse systems from a technological and social perspective. The reuse of centralised wastewater will be studied at the wastewater treatment plant in the Infulene valley (the only large scale treatment plant in Maputo). The goal is to turn this treatment plant into a profitable 'mine' that produces clean water for irrigation and industry, energy by digestion of concentrated waste streams and sludge, and nutrients for agriculture. The reuse of decentralised wastewater will be studied in peri-urban areas, assessing and pilot testing the potential of reuse of domestic waters for small industries, urban agriculture and garden watering, leading to a reduction of the 'expensive' drinking water use and polluting wastewater flows.

The two research projects will lead to reliable technologies, tools, models and approaches for local stakeholders who need water reuse strategies and solutions to develop this market. These stakeholders include Governmental organisations, Non-Governmental organisations and private operators, conform the approaches proposed in the Mozambican Water Policy.

Within the research project mixed teams of Mozambican social science and water technology PhD and Post-Doc researchers will collaborate, institutionalising optimal multidisciplinary collaboration. Focussing on only Mozambican PhD researchers is part of the capacity building strategy that comprises different levels of education, stimulating, in addition to the proposed communication strategy, the uptake of the research in planning and implementation during the project period and thereafter.


Scientific article

Professional publication

  • O. Muximpua, P. Hawkins, A. Marques Arsénio, M. Bäuerl(2017): Emptying of onsite sanitation facilities in Maputo, Mozambique

Publications for the general public


Project number

W 07.69.109

Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. L.C. Rietveld

Affiliated with

Technische Universiteit Delft, Faculteit Civiele Techniek en Geowetenschappen, Afdeling Watermanagement

Team members

Dr. A. Arsenio, Prof. dr. ir. J.B. van Lier, E. Machava, Dr. S. Manuel, Dr. N.P. Matsinhe, Dr. G. Pelzer, Dr. A. Potter, T. Ramaker, Prof. dr. ir. L.C. Rietveld, Dr. M. Rusca, Dr. P. van der Steen, Prof. dr. P. van der Zaag, Dr. E. Zandbergen


01/02/2014 to 31/01/2018