HARARE - Yesterday, our sister paper the Daily News, carried a story on a burst sewer pipe that runs across the Marimba River near Kambuzuma.
This is against the background of a cholera outbreak that has been reported in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. Two people have since died from the disease.
The highly-communicable disease is believed to have spread from neighbouring Mozambique, where a cholera epidemic has infected more than 1 000 people in the aftermath of Cyclone Dineo.
In 2008, at the height of Zimbabwe’s political and economic turmoil, cholera killed more than
4 000 people.
It boggles the mind how council lets sewer pipes spew raw sewage into a waterway that leads to Lake Chivero — Greater Harare’s main source of water.
This does not appear new at all as two years ago, Chitungwiza Municipality redirected sewage from a manhole in the dormitory town’s industrial sites into the Nyatsime River, which feeds into Lake Chivero, via the Manyame River.
It appears Harare has not prioritised the rehabilitation of key infrastructure, which has not been repaired for around 30 years. With mayor Bernard Manyenyeni admitting the pipes have outrun their lifespan, it means there is sense in replacing them altogether.
University of Zimbabwe environmental expert Christopher Magadza has in the past claimed that Harare residents are drinking sewage water.
The right to safe water is enshrined in the Constitution and according to section 77: “Every person has a right to: (a) safe, clean and potable water and the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it , to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.”
Safe water is important for people to lead their lives in human dignity.
Water is a prerequisite for the realisation of other fundamental human rights too, like the right to health and the right to a safe and clean environment.
Raw sewage continues to expose our population to water-borne diseases on one hand. On the other, the effluent — together with harsh chemicals and pollutants discharged into our water sources push up the cost of treating water.
To make matters worse, reckless authorities have continued to decimate wetlands, resulting in little, if any, natural purification of water taking place.
Harare and other urban local authorities have been ruing their dwindling water sources, owing to the siltation of current sources as a result of stream bank cultivation.
Council therefore needs to put its house in order, putting to good use the little resources they can mobilise for the ultimate benefit of the residents.