7 September 2018

Zimbabwe: Statement On the Outbreak of Cholera and Typhoid in Glenview and Budiriro and the Subsequent Loss of Life

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We the organizations here present,

United as a coalition working towards improved social service delivery in the Harare Metropolitan Province,

Gravely Concerned by the sudden outbreak of Cholera and typhoid in Glenview Area 3 and 8 (Glen View North Constituency) that has mainly affected 71,72,73,74,75 and 76 Crescents; recently Glen View 1 and 2 (Glen View South Constituency) that has mainly affected 54, 55, 56 and 56 Crescents, and concerned that the outbreak is emanating from a spate of unattended to sewer bursts in Glen View. Concerned by outbreak in Budiriro 1 (Budiriro Constituency) as a result of numerous shallow and unprotected wells where residents are accessing water.

Outraged, by the needless loss of life of six (6) residents in the said area as well as more that 40 confirmed cases of typhoid as of today the 7th of September 2018,

Acknowledging our inalienable right to life, to clean water, to health and a clean environment as provided for in the new Zimbabwe Constitution.

Maintaining that the incessant erratic water supplies as well as an intransigent City bureaucracy that fails to act swiftly to sewer bursts remains the single most contributor to the current and past outbreaks of cholera and typhoid,

Worried that the City of Harare through its District Officer in Glenview Mr Gwiriri was informed and requested to act on the sewer bursts but did not act citing fuel shortages

Following reports from our community activists and leaders in the last three months and recently two weeks we have been engaging the Glenview district office to attend to sewer bursts in the areas around mainly 71 and 72 Crescent. This follows our everyday engagements with the City of Harare on the need for consistent clean water supplies to all residents in Harare. We are disappointed that the City ignored these calls for action citing absurd reasons that they did not have fuel. What is more worrying is that the Jan-July city income and expenditure statement reflects an over 70% expenditure on salaries and administration and yet the City fails to attend to simple problems like sewer bursts. We contend that these sewer bursts and the attendant water problems are at the heart of the outbreaks as opposed to the usual accusations that vendors cause cholera and typhoid outbreaks.

The water supply situation in Harare remains dire. The City is producing 520 megalitres per day, 60% of which is unaccounted for water. The City is therefore practically providing (water that actually reaches consumers) about a quarter (200 mega liters) of water a day against a daily demand of over 800mega liters. There seems to be no clear plan to address this issue and we implore the new Mayor of Harare, Councilor, Hebert Gomba to ensure that water provision is at the heart of his new term of office. We implore the Mayor to ensure that the water account is ring fenced. Water services remain the cash cow of the City and yet it is the service that continues to suffer most under the guise that residents are not paying bills, with an expanded wage bill as a contributor to poor service delivery. We also implore the Government to resuscitate the public-sector investment program that will provide resources to rehabilitate the dilapidated water infrastructure.

We thus make the following demands:

That the Ministry of Health declares a health disaster in Harare and acts swiftly to contain the situation in Glenview and Budiriro,

That the City of Harare must urgently and without any further delay;

a. Provide consistent supply of clean and portable water even if it means through water bowsers, especially in the affected areas to contain the spread of the disease.

b. Attend to the sewer bursts and ensure that the burst pipes and blockages are fixed as urgently as human possible.

c. Assess the safety and quality of borehole in the area.

d. Engage the civil society organizations, community advocacy groups and the local community on an urgent conscientisation program and raise awareness on cholera and typhoid.

e. Sanction the Glenview District Officer who ignored a health situation and demonstrated gross negligence that has led to needless loss of life,

f. As the rain season approaches the City of Harare and Chitungwiza must release their state of preparedness plans to contain the disease outbreaks that normally accompany rains. It cannot be that every year people lose life due to outbreaks.

g. Develop a plan to manage its staff costs that continue to gobble over half of the City's budget.

Call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate this flagrant violation of our fundamental right to life, health and clean water and ensure that there is substantial compliance by the City. If at all, the City of Harare must be held responsible for this needless loss of life.

That the forthcoming 2019 City budget must make water provision as a priority. Further we implore the Ministry of Finance to ensure that in its forthcoming 2019 budget there are substantive meaningful and sizeable budget provisions for rehabilitation of liquid waste infrastructure as well as water provision for local authorities as envisaged under devolution.

The City of Harare, the Ministry of Health and Local government must assist the families that have lost their members in every way possible.

Supported by the following civic society associations;

Community Water Alliance (CWA)

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association

Vendors' Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation

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