'Prioritise financing of sanitation facilities'

HARARE - Government is impressed with local authorities and international community’s efforts in addressing hygiene and sanitation woes across the country, Vice President Joice Mujuru has said.

Mujuru said despite the challenges currently bedevilling the country, she was delighted to note the significant strides registered by local authorities, in conjunction with strategic partners, in arresting waterborne diseases.

“I wish to acknowledge efforts by some local authorities towards enhancement of quality service delivery, for instance the procurement of plant and equipment by the City of Harare, Epworth Local Board, Masvingo City, Goromonzi, Makoni and Umguza rural district councils to mention a few,” said Mujuru.

“Government welcomed the timely interventions made by local authorities, Unicef’s assistance in availing water treatment chemicals to our local authorities, the urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation Project financed to the tune of $26,9 through the Zimbabwe multi-donor trust fund and technical assistance offered by the World Bank,” Mujuru said.

She said this when she launched the National Sanitation Week at Firle Sewage Works in Harare on Friday.
She said financing sanitation facilities should be prioritised if Zimbabwe is to avoid the outbreak of communicable diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Zimbabwe commemorated the National Sanitation Week against a background of outbreaks of communicable diseases such as typhoid and cholera which are linked to poor sanitation and hygiene with the latter claiming more than 4 000 lives.

Mujuru said sanitation infrastructure in Zimbabwe was dilapidated and disease control mechanisms required public-private sector partnerships.

She said Zimbabweans should equally contribute to the cause through responsible disposal of waste.
“Communities are obliged to observe sanitation and hygiene standards to augment efforts by local authorities to keep the environment clean,” she said.

Around 2,6 billion people worldwide have no access to basic sanitation.

She said there was need to promote sanitation facilities in rural areas so as to achieve the Millennium Development Goal targeting a 50 percent reduction of people without access to proper sanitation by 2015.

Provision of proper sanitary services was adversely affected by economic meltdown in the last 20 years as local authorities failed to maintain, replace or expand infrastructure.

The National Sanitation Week was being commemorated under the theme: “Proper waste management for a clean, safe and healthy environment.”

Water Resources and Development minister Sipepa Nkomo said his ministry was conscious of the need to uphold hygiene and sanitation in rural communities but Harare, being the country’s capital and most affected, remained the priority.

“Our focus on urban areas does not imply neglect of rural areas as these are duly receiving their attention as is attested by the various water and sanitation projects,” said Nkomo.

About 33 percent of Zimbabwe’s population defecates in the open with the urban sub sector contributing 52 percent of the figure, Nkomo said. - Wendy Muperi

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