HARARE – Scores of Harare residents are exposed to deadly water-borne diseases — cholera and typhoid — after an Oxfam Zimbabwe (Oxfam) survey revealed that more boreholes in high density suburbs are “significantly contaminated”.
This comes as Zimbabwe is battling to contain yet another cholera and typhoid outbreak which killed two people in Hatcliffe and Epworth this week, while the highly communicable diseases claimed two lives in Chipinge and Masvingo last week.
Early this year, two people from the high density Mbare suburb died of cholera after drinking water from a contaminated borehole.
In a humanitarian response update issued this week, Oxfam said it conducted a water quality monitoring exercise which confirmed that most water sources in the highly-populated Harare communities are polluted.
“A total of 68 water points in Harare’s high density suburbs have been sampled and of these, 36 water points have been observed to be significantly contaminated,” said the aid agency, which has been working together with David Parirenyatwa’s Health ministry in collecting and analysing water samples from the boreholes.
“In 22 school water points sampled, 11 were significantly contaminated,” Oxfam said, adding that it is “intensifying health education and distributing water guard for water treatment”.
Oxfam — an international confederation of 19 organisations — said its partners have been speedily intensifying hygiene promotion to raise awareness on safe water, hygiene and sanitation practices.
“Sixty hygiene volunteers have been trained on acute watery diarrhoea and typhoid transmission routes, safe water chain as well as point of use water treatment to enable them to undertake health and hygiene education in the four wards of Mbare district,” it said.
“In Gutu, Matobo, Masvingo and Mangwe Districts 64 Water Point Committees and 45 Pump Minders have been trained to manage and maintain rehabilitated water points.”
Oxfam added: “Data sharing, early quality monitoring and testing of water points in Mbare contributed to early action by government and Mbare District stakeholders in acknowledging the extant of the typhoid crisis and responding to the thousands of people in need, in the process saving lives,” Oxfam said.
The aid agency has also embarked on a water treatment campaign in the Hopley and Stoneridge settlements of Harare.
Meanwhile, Oxfam said it was extending cash transfers to people in urgent need of food aid.
“At least 82 561 food insecure communities in Masvingo, Matobo and Gutu have been receiving monthly unconditional cash transfers to allow them to have food and other basic household needs between now and the next harvesting season,” it said.
Zimbabwe is currently battling to stay afloat in the face of rampaging floods almost that have left close to 2 000 people homeless, with around 900 people displaced.
The country seeks $188 million, recently increased from $100 million, in humanitarian aid after declaring the rampaging floods a national disaster.