Zim in dire water crisis

HARARE - Zimbabwe is in a dire water crisis, with the impeding rains unlikely to improve the situation, Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

Apart from the crisis being caused by the El Nino-induced drought that has ravaged most parts of the country, Muchinguri-Kashiri said the situation was compounded by the depressed national dam storage levels and massive pollution.

The water crisis has seen local authorities, including the Harare City Council, introducing stringent water rationing schedules.

At the same time, declining ground water levels have piled more misery on ordinary Zimbabweans who had turned to boreholes.

“As of October 20, national dam storage levels were averaging 41, 9 percent which is 20,4 percentage points below the normal average of 62,3 percent for this time of the year,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said while giving an update on the water supply situation in the country.

“Masvingo dams have the lowest levels averaging 21 percent while Mashonaland West’s are the highest at 73 percent full.”

The immense pollution and lack of service delivery has also left the country facing a serious health time bomb.

There are fears that Zimbabwe could slide back to the 2008/2009 period when a cholera outbreak killed more than 4 000 people, with Muchinguri-Kashiri saying the country was “living dangerously”.

She said the escalating crisis was now forcing many to drink from unprotected water sources.

“In Bulawayo, upper and lower Ncema dams are dry and water is being drawn mainly from Insiza Dam,” she said.

“Mtshabezi Dam and Nyamandlovu aquifer also augment supplies to the city, while work has started at Epping Forest boreholes in order to have additional boreholes supplying more water to the city. We urge citizens to use water sparingly,” she added.

The Environment ministry has since written to MPs asking them to identify critical areas in their respective constituencies for them to benefit from the emergency water supply mitigation programme.

“To date, 1 600 new boreholes have been drilled, 10 220 boreholes repaired, 32 piped water schemes have been rehabilitated while 1 660 schools have been provided with latrines,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

“In order to reduce the impact of the drought on communities relying in surface water for household use, water is being released from upstream dams to their communities. This has already been done for communities downstream of Shangani Dam, for Gwanda Town from Mtshabezi Dam, for Ngundu, Gororo and Loweveld from Muzhwi Dam.”

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