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National Demand For Clean Water Rise

By Shingirai Vambe

Zimbabwe in dire need of clean water and energy at a time when the population is increasing as well as the demand while the power plants are failing to produce enough for domestic use and export resulting in 12 hour schedule load shedding and waiting for hours to get 2oL bucket of water.

Those with access and the privileged have managed to drill boreholes in most parts of Harare, Matebeleland Midlands and Manicaland and this has also become an alternative for government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Development.

Experts in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Climate Change department have already highlighted on danger that is looming on the water tables around the country as a result of Climate Change.

Dams are currently under threat with the growing demand against those in the agricultural industries, fisheries and gold panning affecting the dam levels through siltation and pollution by use of various chemicals, fuels and oils.

Ministries, institutions and citizens are on an engagement drive on a climate action process of adapting, conserving, and use of little water for mass production through in some instances the use of renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydro.

Changes in the demographic and geographic setups has been highlighted as major causes for scramble and desperation of the natural resource.

Earlier Post On Sunday spoke to Mercy Corps senior programs manager, Collen Shoko following the organization’s Covid Response program.

Shoko said in all the water piped programs they have done in Manicaland they have engaged with local authorities, despite the fact that council are facing challenges and citizens are in need of water.

“Local Authorities raised a point that the availability of boreholes in communities would affect their revenue collection from residents” Shoko said.

City of Mutare, Harare and Rusape Town Council said to have raised the point, and the Dangamvura water program has been hanging on the wall for over 20 years with other development partners coming onboard pushing and lobbying for the completion of the water pipe project in Mutare.

The recent visit by this publication in Gimboki, Dangamvura proved there is a health hazard in the area where they use Blair toilets no water and only 1 borehole is servicing a population of more that 10 000 residents while some resort to fetch the water in unprotected wells.

Under the circumstance, there arise an opportunity for some to make money, Gimboki residents now buy 4 buckets of water for USD $1 or equivalent in RTGS on the market prevailing rate. Mothers, women and girls spend most of their time at boreholes and this publication gathered reports of abuse and indecency in trying to access the precious commodity.

Mercy Corps, Shoko said their program which is funded by UNICEF for solar piped water under Covid-19 response project had Rusape receiving 1 borehole, Buhera 2 & Mutare rural 1.

“In the First phase Covid Response we installed 4 piped water schemes in all in Makoni district at Tsikada, Magura-Batanai, Chitenderano & Nyadzonya and in some areas we are repairing seized boreholes and the organization has partnered with residents in setting up of these systems” said Shoko.

Norton Legislator, Themba Mliswa told this publication that The minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka told Parliament that his ministry is going to drill 35000 boreholes but to date he hasn’t come back to report on the progress of the program

“Like always, they don’t walk the talk, they make political statement while hospital, schools and clinics are in need of the precious liquid while the water tables continue to go down, if they don’t have the capacity they should tender to private companies to do the job” said Mliswa.

Government has a monopoly system, the same way they have done with Zupco. They should out source and serve the people, it’s very unfortunate, people have been paying for water which they don’t get, people should stand up and speak against this it’s fraud, He added.

Mliswa further highlighted that councils have failed, why should Norton get water from Harare when Lake Chivero is In Norton? “as parliament we haven’t got any feed back on the role out of the program by government , “we don’t see results on the ground” he said.

The water crisis in Zimbabwe is not only in the urban centres even in rural areas and as summer approaches crisis looms resulting in water bone diseases, malaria and cholera.

Mt Darwin East Legislator Norman Marikisi told this publication that all wards t in his constituency are dry and people walk 2-4km in Rushinga and Mt Darwin as the Water table has gone down.

“We have bveke, pfunyanguwo and Nyamarodza to mention just a few that have boreholes drilled to almost 100m going down because the usual standard depth has proved otherwise and where they have gone down to 90-100m there is plenty of water most likely to cover 35 wards in my constituency”

Development Partners and Government are moving swiftly in helping with drilling of boreholes through the District Development Fund and our wish is to have solar systems and have reserve tanks” added Marikisi.

Harare South Legislator, Tongai Mnangagwa added and said the pressure in his constituency for water is just too much that the boreholes now have a lot of break downs.

“We are getting the support from Churches and NGOs who are helping in the drilling of boreholes but the current focus is to repair the available bush pumps to avoid drilling everywhere”

We need a lasting solution to water problem, be it a dam or water reservoir so that people can get clean piped water, added Mnangagwa.

Binga North elected member of Parliament, Prince Dubeko Sibanda told Post On Sunday that Binga is one example of hunger in the land of plenty.

Sibanda said boreholes are not the answer to our water problem neither should it be a problem to generate electricity in Zimbabwe, but it’s about planning development and implementation.

“Access to water in Binga has always been a problem despite the fact that we are host to the largest inland water body in the country. We haven’t seen any movement in regards to government borehole drilling program” said Sibanda.

“Boreholes by their nature are not really a developmental source of water, because they need so much hours to pump water manually and we can’t do irrigation or cattle ranching using boreholes” added Sibanda.

If the boreholes become power pumped they would probably serve their little purpose to access clean drinking water.

Sibanda further highlighted that the Rhodesian government had a plan when people were moved away from the banks of the river and told that the water will follow you.

Women fetching water at a water point in the informal settlement of Stoneridge in Southern Harare. MSF drilled the solar-powered borehole and trained the local community health club, who is now maintaining the site.

“We believe that we still need to do more, the most sustainable thing in my view is not drilling of boreholes but to draw water from Lake Kariba and channel it to the people, water has to follow people” Sibanda said

With the vagaries of Climate Change, Covid-19 and failure by local authorities to come up with answers to this problem, citizens are left vulnerable to health hazards and poverty.

Majority of towns and cities in all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe have had challenges in supply of clean running water to residents and they has been unending wars on the issue of rates against the income of many.