4 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Harare Residents Appeal for Water Intervention

Residents living in different suburbs across Harare are appealing for urgent intervention, after days without fresh water have raised fears of the spread of potential diseases.

Mainly western areas of the capital have not had fresh water since last Thursday. This includes the densely populated Mbare suburb, as well as Glen View, Budiriro, Rugare, Sunningdale and others.

Although there has been no official reason given for the water shortages, it is understood that a main water pipe at the Warren Control pump station burst last week.

Precious Shumba, the head of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), said Monday that there has been no attempt by the city authorities to communicate these problems to residents. He told SW Radio Africa that most residents affected by the shortages spend hours queuing for water at the limited boreholes available.

"In the communities where there are boreholes there are unemployed youths who have claimed ownership (of the boreholes) and are charging people to get water and jump the queues," Shumba explained.

He said this has often forced residents to travel outside the city to find water. But he said this does not eliminate the risks of contracting water borne diseases like typhoid.

"The council needs to prioritise this issue. They are trying to treat it as a minor problem but this is a crisis," Shumba said.

The spread of typhoid has continued across the country, with local councils failing to provide clean water. Cases have been reported in different parts of Zimbabwe since 2011, including Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Bindura, Norton and Zvimba. Chitungwiza and Kadoma have also reported serious outbreaks.

The total number of people affected by typhoid alone is believed to be well over than 5,000 officially registered cases. The government's Health and Child Welfare's Dr Portia Manangazira has reported that in January eleven people died because of diarrhoea, which is the main symptom of diseases like typhoid.

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