Improving Water Supply

Awards of Excellence Badge

Mozambique needed to improve drinking water supplies in urban centres. Burnside developed 20-year master plans for water infrastructure in eight critically underserviced cities, overcoming technical and cultural challenges unique to this seasonally dry, remote environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Burnside designed immediate upgrades for each city, applied appropriate technologies and oversaw construction of works that doubled the water supply available to half a million people in the city of Nampula, improving health and saving lives.


Social and/or Economic Benefits

Half the population of Mozambique lives in poverty despite strong economic growth since emerging from a devastating three-decade civil war in 1992. Improving access to water supply is a key element of the Government’s action plan to overcome this challenge.

The main objective of this project was to increase the accessibility, reliability and quality of water supply services in urban centres, thereby increasing productivity, reducing water-borne diseases and benefiting the most vulnerable.

The Burnside Difference

Feasibility studies were completed for eight cities that assessed the existing conditions, estimated future water demands and proposed solutions to meet needs over the next 20 years. This included socioeconomic studies and detailed water resources investigations. The outcome was a series of master plans to guide the necessary infrastructure investments. Burnside completed the detailed design for over USD 200 million in immediate water system upgrades for the eight cities, then oversaw construction of immediate upgrades in the city of Nampula.

Over the duration of the project (2009-2013), Nampula’s population increased from 515,000 people to 615,000 people. The project doubled the total available supply and also extended access to a large segment of the population in the south east of the city; an area of approximately 20 km². Access to the municipal water supply was increased from approximately 52% to 64% and the available daily supply increased from approximately 40 L/person to 65 L/person.

Project Construction

The construction of the water works in Nampula, an investment of USD 45 million over a period of approximately two years, provided an estimated 400 full time jobs in construction and support positions. This resulted in a direct infusion into the local economy estimated at USD 2.5 million.

A significant project component was the Relocation Action Plan (RAP) which ensured that the physical assets of the population (dwellings, crops and “ability to derive a livelihood”) impacted by the project were appropriately compensated. Most who were impacted benefited with “better than before” improvements or replacements.


The improvements to the quantity and quality of water available will improve health conditions and generally lead to longer, healthier lives. The improved access will decrease the time necessary to obtain water, thereby allowing for increased productivity. Bottom line? It saves lives.

Burnside is proud to have been awarded a 2015 Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Canada (ACEC) Award for this project. Read more about it here.


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