Tanaka Nyambo and Shalom Manguni
Government has released over RTGS$37 million including an undisclosed amount of foreign currency to mitigate water problems in Harare.
The development follows calls by council and stakeholders for Government to declare the water situation a national disaster so that resources can be marshalled to avert danger.
The money is to cater for water production, rehabilitation of Morton Jaffrey Water distribution, waste water collection and sewer treatment.
In a statement, Finance and Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube acknowledged the crisis saying the water challenges in the capital were contributing to the decline in the health status of residents.
“The City of Harare is facing a number of challenges which have resulted in failure to resolve the water and sanitation under-provision within the city. This has contributed to the decline in the health status of residents.
“To ameliorate the situation, Central Government has now intervened by releasing ZWL$ 37.4 million from Treasury, including foreign currency, towards intervention that will seek to improve water access and waste water treatment in the short term period.
“Furthermore the Central Government is also developing a long term solution for the water and sanitation challenges facing the residents of Harare,” he said.
The deteriorating water situation in the city has deteriorated to worrying levels with Seke and Harava Dams some of the city’s sources of drought having dried up.
Environment Management Committee Councillor Kudzai Kadzombe said:
“Let us join hands and work for the betterment of the city. We all have a role to play to make Harare great again. No man is an island and no man stands alone. If we come together we can make our city better again
“I am going to set up a special task force of our engineers, independent, water specialists, environmental specialists, to do presentations in two weeks.”
She said the current water bodies are inadequate and cannot meet demand.
“So far Seke and Harava Dams have dried up and we have since decommissioned the Prince Edward water Treatment Plant.
“The available sources Chivero and Manyame are heavily polluted implying that the water in the two lakes is expensive to treat.
“On Lake Chivero we are only left with one abstraction point. Fish have found a home in that section because water in that part of the Lake is relatively habitable by aquatic life.
“As a result when we abstract water fish are finding their way into the treatment plant and in the process blocking clarifiers. We periodically have to stop treatment to clear the fish. Treatment hours are therefore lost,” she said.
She urged residents to conserve water.
“I call upon residents to conserve the little water that comes their way whether it is council or borehole water.
“All our clinics are dispensing aqua tablets. Residents are free to collect for free the tablets that they have to apply to their water. We understand that because tap water is in short supply, some residents are using shallow open wells.
“That water requires pre-treatment before consumption,” she said.