Zimbabwe turns off the taps

Water supplies will be cut for a week in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare as the state-run water company struggles to meet demand.

Despite record rains in December and well-stocked reservoirs, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has announced plans to turn off the city’s water for a week.

The water authority says the problems with supply are a knock on from problems managing the country’s power plants, with recurring power cuts at the city’s main water treatment plant restricting the amount of water which can be pumped into the city.

Reports published earlier this month say Zimbabwe’s dams are full to 87% of capacity while Lake Chivero, Harare’s principal water source, is overflowing.

Last week UNICEF pledged US$210,000 along with five bowsers – water carrying lorries – and the necessary disinfectants to help Zimbabwe supply clean water following an outbreak of cholera, which claimed has claimed several lives.

The cholera epidemic has been linked to ZINWA having piped untreated water into the mains.

There have been a number of deaths.

The epidemic comes as overstretched aid organisations struggle with the impact of food shortages affecting up to 4,1 million people in Zimbabwe. Health officials have warned that poor nutrition complicates conditions like cholera and HIV/AIDS, making recovery more difficult.

UNICEF has appealed for US $7.8 million in emergency funding for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and education programmes for the worst-affected children in Zimbabwe.

Those living in Harare are also having to cope with frequent power cuts, burst sewage pipes and mounting piles of waste as refuse collection systems also feel the strain in the country’s economic meltdown.

Sam Bond

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