By Edward Mukaro
A damning report has exposed the central government and local councils in as far as providing water to citizens is concerned, as 76 percent % of the precious liquid being accessed by Harare residents, is reported, unsafe and unclean.
The shocking report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) focusing on the ‘Right of Access to Water’, conducted in three (3) cities namely Harare, Bulawayo, and Chegutu, respectively, cited residents’ concern over the lack of availability of clean and safe water, while others expressed their feeling on having to stand for long hours in water queues just to get a 20 liters bucket of water.
The scenario, which can lead to health hazards, is slowly getting out of hand as shown by the statistics of residents who are accessing unsafe and unclean water.
Harare topped the list with 76% of water accessed by residents deemed unsafe and unclean, while 22% was deemed inaccessible or unavailable and 2% is accounted for by other sources of water.
Bulawayo was not far off Harare, with 44% of water deemed unsafe and unclean, 12% inaccessible, or unavailable, with other sources of water drawing a large chunk of 42%.
For Chegutu, the report stated that 60% of water accessed by residents is unsafe and unclean, while 24% is inaccessible or unavailable and 16% accounting for other sources of water.
To show how bad the right to access to water has been violated, a Chegutu resident said, “We either go to the toilet as a group or go to a nearby bush to relieve ourselves…. The little we get is insufficient.
“To save water, we get the children to use the toilet first, and they do not flash. We only flush after we, the adults, have also used the toilet… Many families use the bush system,” he said.
The situation is so dire putting a heavy burden on the elderly who have to play a part in fetching water in the home like one Gogo Munashe, a Chegutu resident who said, “At my advanced age, I wake up at 3 am to queue at the local borehole, 300 meters away…some come with cars and they have large containers. I often wait for up to 6 hours for my turn to fetch 60 liters of potable water.
“My grade 3 granddaughter for washing the dishes and clothes, goes to fetch water from a nearby burst pipe before going to school.”
Failure by local authorities to provide ‘safe and clean’ water has caused outbreaks of communicable diseases, while the government has also failed to maintain existing water infrastructure and to invest in more water reservoirs, and procure adequate water treatment chemicals.
The issue of the availability of water in Zimbabwe has not been helped by the prevalent droughts that have hit the southern African nation creating a vicious cycle that has led to increasing poverty, as the economy crumbles.
By Edward Mukaro