70 percent households lack water

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Tarisai Machakaire



CLOSE to 70 percent of Zimbabwean households do not have access to water and sanitation services, the Daily News reports.

In the latest government five-year economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), Finance minister Mthuli Ncube noted how economic challenges have grossly impacted the ability of local authorities in meeting public demands in urban areas.

“The water and sanitation situation remains weak and with uneven outcomes. Only 29,7 percent of households in the country have access to improved water sources and sanitation. 

“The majority of the sewage systems have experienced large-scale blockages; water treatment plants are dysfunctional and lack chemicals while many distribution systems have fallen into disrepair.

“Water, sanitation and hygiene has multiple forward and backward economic linkages to key sectors, including agriculture, energy and the mining sector. The availability of water and sanitation services, however, remains a huge challenge in the country.

“Due to economic challenges, among others, the water supply and sanitation systems and services in many urban and rural areas have deteriorated, adversely affecting water dependent businesses and households,” Ncube said.

Harare’s water treatment plant, Morton Jaffray, recently shut down operations, with council citing shortages of foreign currency to import treatment chemicals.

The shutdown came after the city ran out of aluminium sulphate, the major chemical used in water purification.

Other towns like Bulawayo, Chitungwiza and Norton have also been experiencing extreme water shortages, with residents resorting to unprotected sources.

Ncube said limited funding in the absence of effective development partner support and private sector investments have also affected financial capacity necessary to develop the water sector.

“Additionally, unreliable energy supply has affected efficient operation of the water supply and sewerage systems in urban areas. Erratic water supply has led to decreased industrial production and breakouts of water borne health crises.

“This is being compounded by the current non-cost reflective structure which is adversely affecting the ability of local authorities to undertake their mandate of building, operating, upgrading and maintaining water infrastructure, including the conveyancing and reticulations systems,” the Treasury boss added.

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