Zimbabwe's two largest cities are experiencing serious water shortages that have continued to intensify over the last few months, without any solutions in sight.
Many residents in Harare will have no water until the weekend due to a burst water pipe at the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant. Harare water director Christopher Zvobgo announced on Tuesday that a major pipe that feeds the western suburbs had burst and flooded the pump house.
The flooding damaged electrical pumps and the whole treatment plant temporarily lost power. The affected suburbs include Budiriro, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Glen Norah, Glen View, Kambuzuma and Rugare.
At the same time in Bulawayo many residents have gone least five days without running water. SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said the high density areas are experiencing the worst of it because they are situated in high altitudes and it takes more power to pump water to them.
"Areas like Mpopoma, Magwegwe and Cowdry Park get the water after it is pumped to the higher altitudes. They are really suffering. Manu people use the Council's motorized boreholes and save water in containers," Saungweme said.
He added that many residents were blaming the MDC-T for the water problems because the Council is run by officials from the party. This has been blamed on propaganda allegedly spread by ZANU PF, an issue that MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressed this at their anniversary celebrations last weekend.
"The MDC-T president said the water shortages are not an MDC-T problem. They were created by ZANU PF, who did not invest anything into maintaining or repairing the infrastructure since independence," Saungweme said.
Civil society groups met with Tsvangirai on the sidelines of the MDC-T celebrations last weekend, and pleaded with him to help solve the water crisis. The groups proposed sinking more boreholes and using water bowsers to distribute water as a short term solution.
Last week Bulawayo residents were asked by the local authority to
participate in a "big flush" at 7:30 pm every Saturday evening, in order to prevent human waste from solidifying in the city's aged sewerage pipes.
Meanwhile the Health Advisor in the Office of the President, Dr. Timothy Stamps, has warned that the lack of water could lead to 'war' if not managed properly. According to the Zimbabwean newspaper, Dr. Stamps said: "The lack of water is the major source of war in Somalia and North Eastern Kenya and I hope we are not heading towards that."
The Health Advisor was addressing journalists ahead of the Second Annual Zim-Afro Medical and Health Expo, to be held at Harare International Conference Centre later this month. The expo attracts manufacturers and distributors of medical equipment, pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, among others.