HARARE – The on-going water shortages in Harare have forced municipal authorities to deploy water bowsers to parts of the city.
This comes as residents of the densely populated Hatcliffe suburb, which receives water only twice a week — have blamed shortages of the precious commodity for causing a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed two lives.
Harare’s three million-plus population has been experiencing serious water shortages due various problems, including ageing water treatment equipment and pipe network.
The situation has been exacerbated by a shortage of water tankers.
Harare City Council (HCC) spokesperson Michael Chideme told the Daily News yesterday that “we have to do regular shutdowns to maintain our pumps, so that is what is affecting the water supply”.
“The bowsers deployed should be able to service the areas while also giving us enough time to address the pump situation,” he said.
Last week, the situation deteriorated, with water cuts as long as 10 hours a day.
In severe cases, high-density suburbs went without water for days and residents have resorted to getting water from unprotected wells, raising concerns over possible outbreaks of disease.
Chideme said areas worst affected are the western suburbs of Msasa Park, Mabvuku and Tafara.
He said the city has three water bowsers that will be distributing free water to different suburbs daily.
The council spokesperson said the rest of the city has access to water. He said some parts of Hatfield and Waterfalls may experience water challenges.
HCC’s deployment of bowsers comes as the city is dealing with a possible typhoid and cholera outbreak.
Early this year, two people from Mbare died from typhoid after drinking water from a contaminated borehole.
A survey conducted by Oxfam Zimbabwe revealed that of 68 boreholes that were tested in Harare’s high density suburbs, 36 were highly contaminated.
Oxfam also revealed that 11 of 22 school boreholes that were also tested showed signs of contamination as well.
To curb the further spread of diarrhoeal diseases, council has been distributing water purification tablets and Waterguard.
HCC also started installing inline chlorinator, which according to director of health Prosper Chonzi, can treat the water in the pump by killing the bacteria before it is consumed.
“The chlorinators do not cost much because already we have 200 for the 235 boreholes. It is very important for people to consult widely before they drill a borehole. People just drill through soak-a-ways and where there is obvious contamination,” Chonzi said.
“Citing of boreholes should be done by experts from either council or the Zimbabwe Water Authority (Zinwa) and then the casing is put at a safe distance from any contaminates. The idea is so that people do not drink water that makes them sick,” he said.
“The workmanship when a borehole is being sunk and protection of that whole borehole will guarantee the safety of water.”