A recent typhoid outbreak in Harare further confirms this unfortunate reality less than five years after the city was hit by a cholera outbreak that finally spread nationwide.
Typhoid and cholera thrive in areas were there is poor sanitation and more often than not intermittent supplies of clean water to residents. These factors are abound in the capital with certain suburbs going for months without running water, flowing raw effluent in the streets a common sight and non-functional sewerage works being the order of the day.
The water supplies situation is further compounded by erratic load shedding by the electricity authority. This condition, however, gets even worse during the high energy demand winter season. However, the severity of water shortages remain largely felt in the large cities of Harare and Bulawayo even though the second city is yet to record a water-borne disease epidemic.
These facts paint a good picture of Zinwa’s capability in water management. The authority is responsible for providing treated bulk water supplies to growth points and some small towns, mines and health centres across the country.
Zinwa has consistently strived to provide uninterrupted water supplies to these centres even in the face of liquidity crunches facing the country’s economy. Its commitment stretches to liquid waste disposal as it runs some of the sewer reticulation systems in those places.
The water authority is trying its level best to keep the water and sewer reticulation systems in these areas functional. It remains very aware to the fact that any mistakes in that responsibility costs lives of the human resource base of this country.
Zinwa, to that end, has continued to set aside resources to repair and maintain the main water infrastructures in these centres. This has seen the relaying of new pipes to replace the ageing lines that have outlived their economic lives and immediate repairs to any leaking or burst pipes.
Zinwa remains alive to the dangers of raw effluent flowing into rivers and dams from collapsing treatment plants across the country. To that end it is engaging the relevant authorities and stakeholders like local authorities, government and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to find lasting solutions to the dangers to our water sources.
The current threat to water bodies can only be avoided by a massive capital injection in liquid waste and sewerage management by local authorities and central government. The situation is dire and cannot be postponed any further for the sake of human life.
Zinwa welcomes the Treasury’s efforts in setting aside significant funding to help local authorities repair and upgrade their water and sewer reticulation systems in the 2012 national budget. This effort, however, needs to be complimented by deliberate capital expenditure by local authorities in the same field.
Zimbabwe desperately needs a coordinated approach to dealing with water pollution. It is imperative that all water stakeholders regularly meet and hold peer review sessions and discuss new developments in water and waste management.
While all has been said and done, Zinwa’s water management policies and style in growth points, mines and small towns remain the most ideal to be replicated in big cities. Facts on the ground point to that direction or alternatively there should be greater interaction between the local authorities and the water authorities in management of water and sewer reticulation.