Zimbabwe: Prioritise Garbage Collection, Harare Urged

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Climate Change and the Environmental Management Agency has urged Harare City Council to capacitate its waste management department to ensure timely collection of garbage. Council has been failing to collect garbage for sometime, resulting in the outbreak of waterborne diseases in suburbs like Mbare.

Speaking during a tour of Mbare, chairperson of the committee Cde Wonder Mashange said residents should also play their part by maintaining a clean environment and paying their bills.

“They need more trucks because of the frequency they collect garbage. If they spent two weeks without collecting garbage, it will accumulate. So, the solution is to capacitate the department. It must be given more resources in terms of trucks or vehicles to ferry the garbage,” he said.

“What contributed to residents not paying maybe initially was poor service delivery. People were maybe paying, but there was no service. I think now it is a question of engaging residents to educate them.

With this kind of improvement in garbage collection, they also need to pay the bills so that service will continually be delivered.”

Cde Mashange said the purpose of the visit was also to inquire if residents were happy with the service they were getting from Harare.

He said as a committee, they were happy with efforts being made by the City of Harare in terms of garbage collection and waste management.

“Usually, typhoid is a disease which is a result of poor hygiene. There was a lot of garbage dotted around Mbare. We said as a committee, we need to go again and visit the area to see the efforts which are being made by the City of Harare,” he said.

City of Harare director of Works, Eng Phillip Pfukwa said the situation in Mbare had improved.

“If we go back four months ago when we had the unfortunate outbreak of typhoid this place was a pigsty but people are now maintaining their working areas,” he said.

“We need refuse compactor in each and one of the 46 wards. As of now, some of the equipment because of its age is on continuous breakdown so our complement of 47 dwindles down to 20 and we resuscitate some and at best we will have 27.”

He said the city has started the process of acquiring new compactors.

EMA spokesperson Steady Kangata said Harare should be capacitated to meet residents’ demands.

“The city has to be capacitated in terms of provision of equipment because failure to have adequate equipment, we will have more waste being generated than the rate at which it is being collected. You will keep having illegal dumps mushrooming. We must get to a point where we have more equipment for regular collection,” he said.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Dams Swell Up As the Rainy Season Ends

The dam at Umzingwane, southeast of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, is registering 100 percent full. This is in part due to the remains of a tropical cyclone.

Tropical Storm Dineo may have lost its character after it made landfall in Mozambique on February 15, but it carried its rain well inland. It headed northwest towards the Kruger National Park. The rain topped up dams and rivers, but it did, of course, cause flooding.

According to a report by Civil Protection Zimbabwe, one of the areas worst affected by Dineo was Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North, where the Gwayi River and its tributaries burst their banks, inundating homes, fields, schools, infrastructure, and sweeping away livestock.

Tsholotsho received 72mm of rain in a 24-hour period as ex-Dineo moved along the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, while 72mm fell in Bulawayo and 100mm in Matopos.

Sixty percent of the crops planted in the flooded areas during the January planting window have been water-logged

The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere said most southern parts of Zimbabwe, namely Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Manicaland and some parts of midlands were still receiving rain in excess of 100mm a day.

At the full dam in Umzingwane, each further shower causes an overflow which inevitable causes flooding downstream. Luckily, most recent significant rains in Zimbabwe have been in the north, beyond Harare. Forecasts show significant showers dying out this coming week as the rains head north.

The wet season in this part of the world runs from October to March and the cyclone season is part of it, especially for Mozambique and Madagascar. There is a cyclone now developing and heading for Madagascar. It is not forecast to hit the African mainland.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Zinwa to Embark On Water Quality Tests Countrywide

Innocent Ruwende — THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority yesterday said it was going on a nationwide testing of borehole water to assess its quality. Tests done in Harare have confirmed the contamination of borehole water in some low density areas in Harare. The tests indicated that the water contained the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. The bacteria can cause water-borne diseases and other health challenges.

The water is also contaminated with other coliforms (bacteria). E. coli is a bacterium that is normally related with faecal matter. Zinwa public relations manager, Mrs Marjory Munyonga said the programme aims to update the status of the groundwater quality in Harare and all the other parts of the country.

“The initial part of the programme, which starts on February 10, 2017 and runs up to February 25, 2017 will focus on Harare and move to all the other parts of the country as the year progresses. We are, therefore, inviting borehole owners who are interested to be part of this rapid assessment to contact us,” she said.

Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa’s scientists would be visiting premises to inspect the borehole environment and carry out physical water testing and collect microbiological samples for laboratory testing. She said sampling of this nature was very sensitive and could only be done by qualified personnel.

Last week The Herald took water samples from four northern suburbs of Harare for laboratory tests and results from two boreholes in Borrowdale and Glen Lorne showed that the water was not safe for drinking.

Random samples were also taken from Greystone Park and Gunhill. Zimlabs, which carried out the tests, looked at chemical and micro-biology composition of the water to check if it was safe for human consumption. Harare City Council has also condemned half of Mbare-Sunningdale boreholes in Harare as unsafe for consumption.

Briefing Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa and Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere during a tour of Mbare recently, to assess the extent of the typhoid outbreak, Harare City Council health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said residents were consuming borehole water because of erratic supply of potable water.

“Thirteen out of 32 boreholes in the Mbare-Sunningdale area are contaminated but residents consume this water because of the erratic water supplies leading to the spread of the typhoid bacteria,” Dr Chonzi said.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Zinwa Prepaid Water Meters Go National

THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is in the process of acquiring pre-paid smart water meters for a massive nationwide programme that will cover local authorities, farmers and all its other customers.

ZINWA’s corporate and marketing manager, Marjorie Munyonga told the Financial Gazette this week that the project, which started with test runs in Gwanda and Beitbridge, will now be extended to all the authority’s customers throughout the country.

“It will cover all our customers. We have just started the process of acquiring the meters and we hope that they will be in place before the end of the year,” Munyonga said.

ZINWA is owed more than US$140 million mainly by local authorities and farmers, and has been struggling to get the defaulters to pay.

Some of the defaulters, such as Kwekwe Municipality, have dragged the authority to court after their water supplies were cut and the courts have ruled that water was a basic right and therefore water disconnections in the absence of a court order were unlawful.

Asked how the authority intends to strike a balance between these conflicting sides, Munyonga said if water were to be free, in the long-run it would become unavailable with worse consequences to everyone.

“As much as water is a right, there is a cost associated with the purification and the delivery of the water and someone has to pay for it if it is to be available always, hence this decision. We have taken the decision with full government approval,” she said.

She said consultations had taken place with all stakeholders and the process would continue as the authority implements the project.

ZINWA has started inviting companies to partner it in financing, supplying and installing the smart meters and associated management systems at its 534 stations in seven catchment areas throughout the country.

Farmers, who are among some of ZINWA’s main customers–and also some of the worst defaulters – expressed surprise at the move being taken by ZINWA. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Wonder Chabikwa told the Financial Gazette that they had not been consulted at all before the water utility decided to go the pre-paid route.

“There was no consultation from ZINWA. If they implement that to raw water for farming then it will negatively affect production,” Chabikwa said.

He said the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company — a unit of power utility ZESA Holdings — has both pre and post payment systems with farmers being given a choice between the two options.

In other countries where similar systems are in place, clients such as farmers are expected to pay their bills in arrears, and failure would result in their supplies being terminated immediately until full payment for water used in the previous season has been made.

Munyonga said ZINWA does not see how local authorities, most of which have already started implementing pre-paid systems, should have problems with ZINWA adopting the same approach. She said this would ensure that money paid by ratepayers for water usage primarily goes towards procurement, treatment and distribution of water.

Most water users complain that water is very expensive; a claim ZINWA says is not true for an average and responsible water user.

“For those areas where ZINWA supplies treated water to residents, it charges 40 cents per cubic metre of water, for those residents in the high density areas. A cubic meter is 1 000 litres of water or five drums of water. This translates to eight cents per drum of treated water or 0,0004 cents per litre of treated water. One US dollar therefore can buy 13 drums or 2 500 litres of treated water,” ZINWA explained in a statement issued in October last year after Parliament also complained that ZINWA water rates were very high.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Water Key for Command Agriculture

 

THE expansion of Command Agriculture to include soya beans and wheat in the coming seasons brings to the fore a number of new issues that Government and its partners in the private sector should consider.

Such issues range from the availability of inputs going forward, logistics for the distribution of the inputs and produce as well as land preparations to ensure timely planting.

But another critical dimension that calls for attention is the availability of water throughout the year.

This season, Command Agriculture, financed to the tune of $500 million, targeted only maize, set on 400 000 hectares throughout the country dedicated to grain production for a yield of at least two million tonnes of maize per season.

These targets were mainly on rain-fed agriculture although Government consider some farmers who are close to water bodies.

But to achieve the agricultural targets set out in Command Agriculture and Zim-Asset, there has to be significant investment in water security. This means that the demand for agricultural water will increase from next season putting a strain on the current holding capacity.

Questions relating to how much the country can hold throughout the year and how that water is then expended on agricultural activities arise.

Water harvesting and storage are critical systems that require attention if Zimbabwe is to achieve agricultural targets set out in the Government’s $500 million Command Agriculture programme.

Zimbabwe, being an agro based economy depends on water availability for agricultural activities to be successful.

A large part of the country is semi arid and is characterised by frequent droughts whose negative impacts will worsen in the wake of climate change.

According to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, currently dam levels in the country are now averaging 57 percent storage with most of the country’s dams concentrated along the central watershed of the country. This is where most of the arable land and farms in the country are located. The net capacity of the country’s national dams is around eight billion cubic metres and as at January 26 dams were at 4,6 billion cubic metres.

The Environment, Water and Climate Ministry says in terms of water harvesting infrastructure, Zimbabwe is second in Africa, after South Africa. It is estimated that three quarters of water infrastructure in Africa is found in Zimbabwe and South Africa. But because the country’s water resources are limited, estimated at less than 25 percent of the Sub-Saharan African average, water harvesting and storage systems come into the equation.

Water harvesting is being practiced at different scales. On a small scale it is practiced at house hold levels through harvesting from roof tops and fields and on a large scale through the development of dams which the Government is the main actor together with some private players.

Some of the most common systems include infiltration pits, strip catchment tillage, earth basins and contour ridges.

While Government, through the Environment, Water and Climate Ministry, is working on a number of initiatives to harvest water, it is critical to expedite the initiatives. Government is considering a number of dams to improve the country’s water holding capacity.

One such major project is the completion of Tokwe Mukorsi Dam located at the confluence of the Tokwe and Mukorsi rivers with a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres of water. The Mukorsi Dam will enable irrigation of about 25 000 ha of new land in the Lowveld Area where considerable infrastructure is already established.

Existing commercial estates are expected to uptake about half of the water for the expansion of cane and citrus while the other half would serve new schemes to be developed in the communal and resettled areas.

But there are some water challenges that need attention relating to the quantity, location, timing and quality of water.

The challenges include inadequate surface water assessments and monitoring and provision of adequate water supply compounded by widespread pollution as largely affecting service delivery. These challenges have informed Government’s water priorities as it endeavours to ensure availability of enough of water for agricultural purposes, among other requirements.

Some of the priorities include reviving information gathering and documentation, arresting deterioration of the water and sanitation sector, rationalising the institutional and legal framework particularly with regard to environmental protection, and ensuring financial sustainability of the water sector.

Government is also considering budgetary intervention to address the poor maintenance of existing water harvesting infrastructure due to budgetary constraints.

It would be noble for Government to push for Private Public Partnerships in the development of water harvesting infrastructure. Also, Government should intensify disiltation programmes to ensure that rivers and dams are not affected.

According the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, siltation of rivers and dams is one of the major threats to water resources availability the country is faced with. Government through the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (MEWC) last year launched a disiltation programme which aims at identifying and desilting silted water bodies in the country so as to improve their holding capacity.

The effect of siltation is that the rivers will lose their channel capacity leading to failure to contain river flows which results in increased flooding. The dams will lose their storage capacity leading to failure to sustain water supply for domestic, mining, industrial, agricultural and livelihood sustenance.

Some of the strategies which could be implemented to curb siltation include enforcement of existing laws that outlaw alluvial gold mining in the river bed or close to the stream banks. This includes relocating gardens located within the streams to more than 30m from the highest flood plain level and conservation works to be put in place. Also construction of contours and other soil conservation works in the fields to ensure that the rate of soil erosion and sedimentation of water sources is reduced.

Furthermore, the area reserved for dam servitudes should be increased so that a bigger area of the dam catchment is protected from agricultural/mining activities.

This may require policy interventions in the form of a statutory instrument to gazette areas along a river and dam catchment as state or protected areas and put under the management of the water authority.

Traditional leaders could also be engaged so that they play a central role in environmental management and improve the health of water sources. In that regard, traditional leaders should be further empowered to effectively deal with all issues of the environment including stream bank cultivation.

As Government has adopted Command Agriculture as a permanent programme for agriculture aimed at ensuring food security, expanding it to look into issues of water availability and security is key.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Redcliff Seeks Water Works Investor

 

Redcliff Municipality is seeking an investor for a partnership in the construction of water treatment works, to wean itself from Kwekwe City Council.

The municipality gets its water from Kwekwe and owes council more than $2 million in unpaid water charges, resulting in it getting erratic water supplies.

Speaking during a recent meeting with Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund officials, Redcliff town engineer Mr Thembani Kundhlande said the municipality could draw water from four dams which were already in existence.

“We can draw water from Sebakwe, Cactus, Mbembeswane or Pedro’s Pool,” he said. “We are seeking a grant or a partner to build the plant on a built-operate-transfer basis. The partner can collect money from residents. We will have to install pre-paid water meters for the project to be a success.

“We will also apply for grants from various agencies as we seek to end the water woes, which have seen us coming up with a water rationing schedule for residents.”

Residents in one of the suburbs, Rutendo, get water at least twice a week for three hours, while those in Torwood receive water once a week.

Redcliff mayor Mr Freddy Kapuya is on record as saying the local authority was looking forward to generating more income from the services they were going to provide to Chinese investor, Mortal Investments Manufacturing Company, which is constructing a $10 million cement manufacturing plant after purchasing 100 000 square metres of land.

Mortal Investments, which partnered with a consortium of local businesspeople, purchased the 100 000 square metres of land from Redcliff municipality for $600 000.

It is expected that the company will create 500 jobs for residents whose other source of income, Ziscosteel, closed shop several years ago.

In October, typhoid cases were recorded in Rutendo high-density suburb owing to the acute shortage of water being experienced in the Midlands town.

The municipality recently got a $4 million boost from Zimfund for the rehabilitation of its water supply and sanitation systems.

The funds are part of the $36 million grant to be distributed under the Water and Sanitation Programme Phase Two.

The African Development Bank administers the funds meant for the reinforcement of water distribution and waste water collection systems of five cities, including Redcliff.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: No End in Sight to Deadly Zimbabwe Typhoid

Harare — A raging typhoid outbreak is stretching Zimbabwe’s collapsing health sector to the limit and left the country on the verge of its worst disease catastrophe in a decade. Spreading with no end in sight, it has evoked memories of a cholera outbreak that claimed 4 000 lives for months in 2008. The capital Harare continues reeling under conditions suitable for the spread of typhoid, which like cholera is waterborne. With two deaths reported from 132 cases this week, the situation remains dire. Burst sewerages, unsafe water and poor sanitation, which are conditions typhoid has thrived under, are commonplace in the southern African country’s cash-strapped cities.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said it was appalled by the failure by the City of Harare and the Government to stem the spread. The administrations have failed to prioritise safe, clean water and the environment as key tenets of strong primary healthcare. “ZADHR further contends that the typhoid outbreak must allow residents to take stock of their local authorities and also the negligence of supervision by central government.” The organisation encouraged residents to exercise good personal hygiene and the medical profession to help find solutions. Typhoid is the latest test to a health sector suffering from Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis. Doctors have joined millions fleeing the country while those remaining are usually on strike. The broke government of President Robert Mugabe has struggled to procure drugs and medicines, forcing major hospitals to suspend surgeries. Neighbouring South Africa recently said it was on high alert following the outbreak in Zimbabwe.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: With Water Short, Zimbabwe’s Farmers Turn to Capturing Rain

Marange — Kuziwa Matongo’s rainwater harvesting system may not look like much, but its impact is huge.

Triangular metal gutters run below the corrugated roofs on all the buildings at his home, transporting water into storage tanks below.

The spartan system allows Matongo to collect enough water to get through the dry season – an ever more difficult task in this arid, sparsely populated area of Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province.

“We are harvesting rainwater from our rooftops and I have three tanks which are almost full,” Matongo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If the rains continue like this, my tanks will be full very soon. It means enough water for my family during the dry season.”

Such home rainwater harvesting system are becoming a more familiar sight in this part of eastern Zimbabwe as droughts intensify and people search for solutions to worsening water shortages.

Over the past five years, a number of new rainwater systems have been installed in the area as rains grow more erratic – a result of climate change and last year’s El Niño weather phenomenon, which brought devastating drought to large swathes of Zimbabwe.

“We have made a lot of strides in rainwater harvesting,” Matongo said. “My sister has a 5,000-litre tank at her homestead. Many people around here are doing likewise.”

BIG BENEFIT, BIG COST?

To take him through the dry season, Matongo has installed one concrete tank and two steel ones with a combined capacity of more than 10,000 litres. His family uses the water collected from the rooftops mainly for drinking and cooking and augments it with water from a borehole well, he said.

Water from the borehole normally is used for gardening and livestock, as well as bathing and laundry, Matongo said. But the borehole produces so little water at the peak of the dry season that storing rainwater has become a necessity, he said.

Nevertheless, rainwater harvesting has been slow to gain widespread traction in the region of 80,000 people, where much of the land is barren apart from drought-resistant acacia and mopani trees.

Only about five percent of households have installed the systems, largely because most cannot afford them, Matongo said.

He paid for his system, which cost more than $1,000, using profits from a small business he owns, he said.

While Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department has forecast higher-than-average rainfall in the current summer growing season, it has also warned farmers to “expect and plan for one form of drought or another”.

“There is need to continue with water harvesting programmes already underway. We should keep in mind that there are indications of deterioration in the rainfall amounts as the season progresses,” the meteorological department said in its seasonal climate outlook released late last year.

Rainwater harvesting is being encouraged by Blessing Zimunya, a traditional leader in the village of Chitora, south of Mutare city, who said he was urging local people to save as much water as possible during the rainy season.

“Rainwater harvesting is now very important but many people do not have the money to buy or build the tanks,” Zimunya said. His three tanks, with a combined capacity of 3,000 litres, cost more than $900, he said.

“With this past drought, water was very scarce and we have realised that every drop counts,” Zimunya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

CREATIVE OPTIONS

In addition to harvesting water for household use, there is a need for people to construct dams to save water for livestock, said Leonard Madanhire, a villager in the farming community of Gutaurare.

“Our small dam here is almost (filled in) with sand and as villagers we are planning to work together to remove the sand and increase its capacity to hold more water,” Madanhire said.

Again, funding is an issue. “We need money to hire a dam scoop, but we don’t have the money. This is the only dam in the area serving livestock for more than 100 households,” he said.

Water harvesting systems can be very effective in rural areas because a lot of space is available for their construction, said Peter Makwanya, a climate change researcher and lecturer at Zimbabwe Open University.

But in many areas, communities “need lots of awareness and education on how best they can explore opportunities for rainwater harvesting,” he said.

Besides systems like Matongo’s, which captures water in rooftop gutters, Makwanya said people might consider everything from storing water in sand to collecting it in “rain saucers” – contraptions that look like upside-down umbrellas and gather rain straight from the sky.

Lawrence Nyagwande, the Manicaland manager of Environment Africa, a non-governmental organisation, said rainwater harvesting should be promoted vigorously to rural communities while concerns about drought are fresh.

“If it is properly marketed, people will go for it. Currently, there is a lack of knowledge on rainwater harvesting,” he said.

But Matongo said last year’s brutal drought had already persuaded many local people to harvest as much rainwater as possible, by any means possible.

“After the drought, we realised the importance of harvesting the rainwater, and local schools are also harvesting rainwater for their own uses,” he said.

Source: allafrica.com

Zimbabwe: Vendors Laugh Off Ban, Blame Typhoid On Govt

 

THOUSANDS of vendors operating in central Harare have defied a government “ban” on the selling of vegetables and fruits in an effort to stop the spread of typhoid, saying the state must first give them jobs.

Some of those who spoke to Newzimbabwe.com said they would rather die fighting for vending space than be driven into prostitution and criminal activities.

Others said typhoid is not in the central business district but in the high density suburbs where there is unclean water, burst sewage pipes and heaps of uncollected garbage.

A snap survey conducted Thursday at Fourth Street bus rank, Copacabana and Market Square showed that as early as 8 am some vendors were already at their usual places trading on mangoes, tomatoes and wild fruits.

The Zimbabwe Informal Sectors Organisation (ZISO) and National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) estimate that more than a million people are surviving on vending. They attribute this to the failed economic policies and government inability to create 2.2 million jobs promised during the 2013 election campaign.

“We don’t even want to sell tomatoes, we have certificates and job qualifications, but where can I go and work when companies have shut down due to unfriendly operating environment created by corrupt Zanu PF politicians,” complained one Amai T.

“Why don’t they give resources to the city council to clean high density suburbs where typhoid is thriving instead of fighting us,” said one Trevor.

“Our fruits and veggies are fresh from the farms, so how can they spread typhoid,” he added.

Ronald Murevewi, a leader with National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe, said the decision by the government was meant to punish urban dwellers ahead of the 2018 general elections so that they vote for the ruling party.

So far, nine people have died from typhoid while more than 2000 cases have been reported countrywide with most of them in Harare.

Addressing journalists in Harare Thursday, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) national president, Lorraine Sibanda, said vendors were not the source of the problem.

“Government and councils should provide service to residents and stop blaming vendors while avoiding the real source of the mess who are the local authority and the ministry of local government.

“Our main concern is that vendors have been cited as the chief source of the typhoid outbreak whilst there is a lot of bureaucracy in the running of councils which is hindering the smooth flow of business,” said Sibanda.

“Why has the Ministry of Health neglected to instruct or direct the local authority to clean up the faecal mess flowing in the locations for a good number of years which in itself was a time bomb? Were they waiting for typhoid?”

“What measures, if any, did the ministry of local government take to ensure that local authorities improve water reticulation and delivery systems,” added Sibanda.

Zimbabwe: Chitungwiza Residents in Peril of Contracting Water-Borne Diseases

AS you enter one of Chitungwiza’s newest suburbs, Manyame Park, a strong stench of raw sewage hits you.

Sewage flows from manholes onto the dusty streets, creating streams and ponds, while swarms of flies hover over the raw affluent which has become a common sight in many suburbs of Chitungwiza.

Making the situation more unbearable, women and children can be seen fetching water with buckets from an open shallow well, just 10 metres away from the sewage. They seem oblivious to the rancid sewage and huge garbage piles nearby.

At the well heavily pregnant 19-year-old Rumbidzai Chitiyo, attempts to fetch water from the well which the residents have aptly named “ku-upstairs” due to the steep incline which one climbs when leaving the well.

For Chitiyo, the well is very difficult to reach, with steep sides, which sometimes collapse. The path leading to the well is also narrow and slippery.

It might be late in the afternoon but Chitiyo, who is six months pregnant, has evidently not bathed. Her white top and black skirt are also dirty, but she has a good reason for this.

“I wake up so early every day to fetch water, it’s now 3pm but I have not bathed yet. I hardly get time to rest and, because we are in the dry season, I’m forced to walk twice the normal distance to get water as many boreholes in my neighbourhood have dried up,” she says.

“Those who have boreholes which have not dried up charge between 15 cents and 50 cents per bucket which I do not have. I have to travel from Zengeza 1 to Manyame to fetch water here.”

Chitiyo says although there are some boreholes drilled by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) where clean water can be collected, the water points are so swamped that she can spend more than six hours in the queue without fetching any.

“At least here I can get the water with less hassle. I left toilets at home full up to the brim. Flies are all over,” she says.

Febby Tembo, who was in a queue to fetch water at a Unicef-drilled borehole in Zengeza 2, says getting water had become complicated because of bullies who control the boreholes.

The self-imposed controllers are charging residents to fetch water.

“We are so tired of buying water at this borehole. There are bullies from Dahunha Street who control water here.

They fetch so many buckets here and then charge US$1 per three buckets. In these times when there is a cash crisis, where do we get the money from? I have been coming here for a week but I’m failing to fetch water. This is the only place I can fetch clean water otherwise I will have to rely on water with trash, flies and sometimes human waste,” Tembo says as other women interjected, expressing displeasure.

Chitungwiza residents have gone without reliable water supplies for years, putting residents in constant peril of contracting water-borne diseases.

Parts of Chitungwiza such as Seke’s Unit K, P, G and N have gone without running water for two weeks, while areas like Zengeza 1 and 2 have been receiving erratic supplies.

In parts of Seke as well as St Mary’s, raw sewage flows on the streets.

Unsurprisingly, during the 2008-2009 cholera epidemic which killed about 4 000 people, the town was one of the hardest hit areas.

Chitungwiza Community Development Network programmes manager Admire Mutize said the worsening water crisis is disproportionately affecting women and children more than men due to gender-based roles.

Mutize said: “Water is regarded as a women’s concern and problem and this gender bias is reflected by the common sight of groups of women and children carrying heavy water containers daily. Rather than folding its hands and watching the situation deteriorating, we call on the municipality to intervene and ease the suffering by implementing the following practical measures to improve residents’ access to clean water; hire and deploy water bowsers to deliver bulk water to communities; refurbish non-working boreholes and drill more boreholes at suitable sites.”

Mutize said the Chitungwiza Town Council should expedite and prioritise the construction of the town’s own source of water, Muda Dam.

While Chitungwiza has been hard hit, the water crisis is affecting many other areas countrywide due to erratic water supplies as a result of the El Niño-induced drought.

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri last weekend said she would soon approach President Robert Mugabe to declare the whole nation a water shortage area.

“This provision, if granted, will allow me to redistribute water resources. Most parts of the country received below normal rainfall during the 2015/16 season, leading to low dam storage levels,” she said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said Bulawayo’s supply dams, Upper and Lower Ncema, were dry. The city is relying only on supplies from Insiza Dam.

In rural areas, most boreholes have dried up and if this continues, thousands of people and animals will be at risk.

Masvingo dams have the lowest water levels as they average 21%, while areas such as Gokwe, Buhera, Dotito, Maranda, Sun Yet Sen, and Tsholotsho have water tables lower than 100 metres.

Government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, has already implemented emergency interventions in areas such as Nembudziya, Mberengwa, Guinea Fowl, Zimunya and Great Zimbabwe.

Harare City Council early this month introduced a rationing schedule for most medium-density and low-density suburbs. The cuts have been triggered by reduced water levels in the main sources supplying the city, namely Lake Chivero, Harava and Seke Dams.

High-density suburbs such as Glen Norah, Willowvale, Budiriro, Kambuzuma, Dzivarasekwa, Glen View and Kuwadzana endure up to five days a week without water.

Western suburbs receive water supplies during the week and they are cut-off during the weekend while northern suburbs are the worst affected due to their distance from the water source.

As water runs dry in many suburbs and industrial workplaces, there is a high risk of cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea, as Health minister David Parirenyatwa feared this week.

“We are very concerned about the severe water shortage throughout the country, both in urban and rural areas. People are resorting to using very scarce resources such as shallow wells — some of it is muddy water and one can just imagine what sort of organisms can be found in there,” Parirenyatwa said.

Harare City health director Prosper Chonzi said the water rationing was definitely worrying as people without access to water will look for alternative sources, which may not be protected, triggering water-borne diseases.

“As we speak, there is no cholera yet in Harare. However, we have been noticing an increase in diarrheal diseases especially in western suburbs such as Glen View. In week 41 of the year we recorded 200 cases of diarrhoea with the majority being children under five years. That is the week when the area recorded 23 sewage bursts,” Chonzi said.

“If there is no water and there is burst sewer, people don’t have access to readily available water to wash their hands and as a result food is contaminated. In addition, when there is no water, people will dig shallow wells and when the rains come all defecations in the bushes will go into the shallow wells. As authorities we have to be careful managing this water crisis.”

Public health experts warn that a crisis is looming countrywide owing to the unavailability of potable water supplies.

Source: allafrica.com