13 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Power Cut Leaves Harare With No Water On Heroes' Day

A power outage at the main pumping station supplying water to most of the suburbs in Harare is reported to have left the capital dry, as the country commemorates the annual Heroes Day.

The Harare City Council said all efforts were being made to rectify the situation, but an unnamed official told the Daily News newspaper that most Eastern and Northern suburbs could be without water for the next two weeks.

Water supplies are said to have improved slightly since the Council took over water management from government in 2008, but the City still produces only half of the 1,400 mega litres which are needed per day and much of that is lost due to poor infrastructure.

Mfundo Mlilo from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) told SW Radio Africa that there had been no water in Highlands suburb where he lives for about three weeks. When it came on again two days ago it was brown and there was algae at the bottom after several hours.

Mlilo said CHRA have been receiving water complaints since 2003 and the numbers have continued to increase. The City is losing at least half of the treated water supply to leakages in the infrastructure, meaning only a quarter of the treated water reaches Harare residents.

"The city has a 2012 to 2017 strategic plan which also covers water. The aim is to reduce water leakages and to increase water supply by 300 mega litres per day. But the City is unlikely to meet that target and government needs to intervene and declare a national disaster," Mlilo explained.

He stressed that even at full capacity, the main water treatment plant at Morton Jeffries would produce only half the required amount of water per day. According to Mlilo, the entire water infrastructure needs to be overhauled.

Meanwhile, the situation has been even worse for residents of Kuwadzana Phase 3, who have gone without water for 3 months. Apparently the Council has failed to repair burst water pipes that are believed to be blocking water from reaching the suburb.

These water shortages have forced many residents to rely on unsafe sources of drinking water. This has led to an outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which many countries have completely eliminated. More than 200 cases of typhoid had reportedly been confirmed as of last week.

According to the Daily News, Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda admitted that the local authority was "overwhelmed by demand for water" and called for government intervention to avoid a disaster.

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