The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Nation May Fail to Meet MDGs

Zimbabwe may fail to achieve some Millennium Development Goals related to health provision because Government has no money to fund water and sanitation facilities, Water Resources Development and Management Minister Sipepa Nkomo has disclosed.

The country requires US$701 million each year to equitably provide water and sanitation. However, it can only avail US$28 million under the public sector investment programme (PSIP) for water and sanitation to the country's 91 local authorities. MDG number 7 aims at ensuring environmental sustainability, including water and sanitation.

MDG 7 target C intends to halve the proportion of people without access to safe potable drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

"Zimbabwe is off-track to meet the MDGs. Findings from the 2010 Country Status Overview reveal that the investment gap required to meet the MDGs is estimated to be as large US$365 million per year for water and US$336 million for sanitation," said Minister Nkomo.

"Such funding is not available from treasury."

Minister Nkomo made the revelation during the launch of Harare's water conservation and zero litter awareness campaign in Budiriro last week. He said to close the funding gap, Government was pursuing public private partnerships (PPPs).

The MDGs are interlinked, implying that the failure to meet one of the goals can actually affect the achievement of the other goals because of the close knit relationship amongst the MDGs.

According to the 2009 multiple indicator monitoring survey, the proportion of people in rural areas with access to safe drinking water declined from 70 percent in 1999 to 61 percent in 2009.

A study by the Department of Infrastructure Development shows that more than 65 percent of all rural water points are non-functional at any given time. Minister Nkomo said water provision for urbanites remained a challenge with low production rates due to ageing infrastructure, shortage of water treatment chemicals and losses in conveyance system.

He said low water tariffs and a weak urban revenue base affected re-investment in the water and sanitation sector.

"This is coupled by local authorities' reluctance to ring fence water and sanitation accounts despite directives from Central Government," he said.

Acting Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Joseph Made concurred that challenges faced by local authorities were mainly to do with adequate water provision, wastewater and solid waste management. He said Government had provided US$65 million to local authorities through the public sector investment programme (PSIP) with US$28 million earmarked for water and sewer.

Roads construction and maintenance was provided US$22 million and roads and bridges US$15 million.

"However, unpredictable disbursements of funds may impact on the implementation of the programme," he said.

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