…as water rationing looms

ZwNews Chief Correspondent

Harare residents should brace up for water shortages, as the local authority, City of Harare (CoH) is planning to introduce water rationing scheme next week  to manage the current water crisis.

Currently, CoH is running under 528 megalitres water production deficit daily, against an estimated demand of 800 megalitres. Of the 272 megalitres produced daily, more than 50 per cent is being lost along the way through leaks, and other loses, and resultantly, Greater Harare’s estimated 4,5 million residents are forced to share the average of 135 megalitres a day.

Harare’s water production has been dwindling as a result of destruction of wetlands and the rampant water pollution, with the local authority itself also being fingered as the chief culprit for failing to effectively manage wastes, as well as discharging raw sewer into water bodies, such as Mukuvisi and Marimba Rivers; the rivers that one way or the other feed into Lake Chivero, Harare’s main source of water.

The CoH’s poor waste management has impacted negatively on its ability to supply clean water to the residents and that means that the local authority now needs more chemicals to purify the heavily polluted water, than before, most of which require foreign currency to be procured from outside the country.

Over the years, the local authority has been under fire from residents’ associations and environmentalists for failing to protect the city’s wetlands as required by the laws of the land. In some instance the CoH had been dragged to the courts over the issues.

Responding to the looming water rationing, Community Water Alliance (CWA) chairperson Hildaberta Rwambiwa says her organisation warned the local authority long back over its poor water management planning, and for destroying the city’s wetlands, by parcelling them out for infrastructural development, in direct contravention of the country’s environmental laws.

Rwambiwa also took a swipe on the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) for failing to discharge its constitutional mandate well; the preservation of wetlands, and bringing polluters of water bodies to book.

Rwambiwa says water is a priority and urged the local authority to urgently come up with a plan on the management of Harare’s water catchment areas, preservation of wetlands, pollution control, and rehabilitation of streams.

The CWA chairperson also called on the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube to revise his 2.7 per cent budget allocation to water and sanitation interventions and urged EMA to address the issue of water pollution in the city, as well as the Parliament of Zimbabwe to play its oversight role on funds for rehabilitation of sewer treatment plants and tender processes on water treatment chemicals.