Quantcast

Zimbabwe's Access to Water Is in Peril

Health + Wellness
A young boy pumps water as a woman collects it into buckets in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on n Sept. 19, 2018, where the cholera outbreak was first detected. JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP / Getty Images

The 2 million residents of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, and its surrounding areas found themselves without water on Monday and Tuesday when the authorities abruptly shut down the city's main water treatment plant, raising fears of cholera outbreaks and other water borne diseases, as the AP reported.


Zimbabwe's crumbling economy has left the local government without enough money to import the necessary water treatment chemicals to allow the water to run. The Harare City Council deputy mayor Enock Mupamawonde told reporters that the local authority required 40 million Zimbabwe dollars a month ($2.7 million) for water chemicals — well short of the 15 million Zimbabwe dollars it collected in monthly revenue, as Reuters reported.

He said the money shortage meant the council had to close its Morton Jaffray treatment plant outside of Harare.

"It (the shutdown) is due to the non availability of foreign currency...it is devastating to say the least," Mupamawonde told reporters as he urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to declare the water crisis a national disaster, according to Reuters.

He also told reporters that officials were working to secure a week's supply of chemicals from Bulawayo, the country's second-biggest city, to resume operation and they hoped to get water running in homes by late Tuesday, according to CNN.

The Morton Jaffray treatment plant did resume pumping water yesterday, which brought some relief to residents, as Reuters reported.

"The secured quantities will only last seven days during which period other quantities will be secured. We are currently engaging all stakeholders, including the government to find a lasting solution to the water crisis," said Mupamaonde on Tuesday, as CNN reported.

Zimbabweans have endured a harsh drought this year after an abnormal El Niño season. Water levels in the country's polluted reservoirs have dropped precipitously, leaving cities and towns without the ability to provide water to their residents. Earlier this summer, the country's two largest cities started rationing water to their residents, allowing some people to have running water only once a week, as EcoWatch reported.

"The toilets at school are just too filthy, people continue using them yet there is no water," said Dylan Kaitano, a 12-year-old waiting in line at wells, to the AP. "I didn't go to school today because I have to be here."

Debris such as plastic bottles, tires and algae floated in the shallow waters at the Chivero reservoir, the city's main water supply. The water, which looks green, also releases a choking, foul smell, according to the AP.

The water shortages have made the quality of life plummet in Harare, which now frequently has cases of typhoid triggered by water shortages and broken sewers. Many residents have had to fetch water from unsafe wells and defecate outdoors, according to the AP.

Tambudzai Murwa, a Harare resident, told CNN she dug a well to meet her needs since the water rationing started.

"We hardly have water in our taps," she said. "We pray daily that the cholera outbreak does not recur. A few boreholes were dug, but you have to queue for long to get water, yet we have other things that we have to queue for in our lives."

Twenty-six people died last year in a cholera outbreak, prompting President Emmerson Mnangagwa to express dismay that Zimbabweans were perishing from a "medieval" disease, according to the AP.

"Nothing is working in this country, how do we survive?" Hatineyi Kamwanda, another Harare resident said to the AP, referring to the country's shortages of medicine, food and fuel, in addition to water. "We can't even use the toilets, the children are not going to school because of this and now we fear cholera is going to hit us again. The president should treat us as human beings, we voted for him."

The water was turned back on near midnight Tuesday evening, but it is just a buffer period while the city scrambles to come up with the necessary money to pay for water purifying chemicals, according to Reuters.

"We are taking this as a buffer period to work around what happens next," said Mupamawonde at a media briefing, as Reuters reported. He said that some of the city's chemical supplies were stuck at the border with South Africa in the south, awaiting payment and clearance.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Firefighters work during a wildfire threatening nearby hillside homes in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood on Oct. 21 in Los Angeles. The fire scorched at least 30 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations. Mario Tama / Getty Images

A wildfire that broke out Monday near Los Angeles' wealthy Pacific Palisades area threatened around 200 homes and injured two people, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Justin Trudeau gives a speech following a victory in his Quebec riding of Papineau on Oct. 22. CBC News / YouTube screenshot

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will remain in office after a federal election Monday in which the climate crisis played a larger role than ever before.

Read More Show Less
Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less