Councils must prioritise water programmes

HARARE - Yesterday, the Daily News reported on the ongoing Sadc Water Proficiency Testing Evaluation Workshop in Harare.

This is happening on the back of a cholera outbreak that hit Harare recently, claiming the lives of over 50 people while infecting hundreds others, especially in the disease’s epicentre of Glen View and Budiriro.

Hopefully, the workshop will generate tangible and sustainable recommendations that will inform local authorities’ water programmes so that outbreaks of medieval diseases such as cholera and typhoid are averted completely.

It is important to note that the last outbreak was caused by the contamination of water pipes in Glen View.

The spread of cholera and typhoid can be very rapid, especially if health authorities do not act fast to quarantine all suspected cases.

However, prevention has always been better than cure and the rehabilitation of all water pipes becomes a priority.

Workshops on testing the water should only follow after the fixing of supply pipes has been completed.

Also, it is important to look at boreholes in both urban and rural areas to ensure all water citizens consume is safe.

Besides, access to safe water is guaranteed in the country’s Constitution and as such must be central when the State draws up its spending priorities.

Investment in supply water projects in rural areas as well as repair of infrastructure in urban settlements must be made top priorities thus ensuring that people get safe water.

The supply of safe water remains the prerogative of local authorities and as such, when epidemics occur, the blame will squarely fall on the shoulders of councils whose priorities are largely skewed.

Residents must demand that councils provide adequate services. Besides water supply, there are other areas like sewer bursts over which several urban councils have been criticised.

While the annual water proficiency testing scheme was established by the Sadc in Measurement Traceability to promote inter-laboratory co-operation by member States, there is need to look at how different councils treat their water to establish the suitability for consumption of the water within their jurisdictions.

Sadc came up with the annual workshop in 2004 in a bid to ensure that the water in the region is within acceptable chemical and microbiological limits that are safe for human consumption.

Residents of Harare for instance have routinely slammed council for pumping dirty water to residents and such meetings must look at these practical cases.


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