Some northern suburbs had no water this week from Sunday to Wednesday as the municipality battles an acute shortage of water treatment chemicals.
Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
Residents were having to buy water from bulk water suppliers or asking from neighbours who have boreholes while those from the high density suburbs were left with no option, but to get water from open sources, which may expose them to waterborne diseases.
The City of Harare recently warned residents to brace themselves for acute water shortages in the near future as the municipality is failing to acquire adequate water purification chemicals. Council said that it needs to find other sources of chlorine gas for use in water purification, as its usual supplier is failing to meet demand. On average, the city authorities require 16 tanks per week, but last week they received only four.
“The shortage reduces volumes of water that is produced and the problem is already upon us,” says City of Harare spokesperson, Mr Michael Chideme.
Mr Chideme said the shortage is likely to be felt in the long run if it is not addressed.
“If we do not have chlorine gas, it means we are reducing the amount of water that we are treating,” said the acting water production manager, Engineer Addmore Chawasemerwa.
“We understand there are problems in South Africa with the manufacturer so our supplier is always having problems in accessing frequent amounts of chlorine gas which is directly affecting the City of Harare. We are now pre-warning residents that there could be a problem in the near future if the situation in South Africa does not improve,” he said.
Commenting on the water crisis, residents blamed council officials for making false promises about solving the water shortages.
Some of the residents said they were now getting water from unprotected water sources as they have no choice.
“We are now being forced to draw water from open sources around us, we are no longer afraid because we have no water.
“We have nowhere else to get water for laundry, and other chores,” said a resident.
The World Health Organisation in Zimbabwe, recently warned that residents drinking water from open sources face the risk of exposure to diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
“People drinking water from an open source that is likely to be contaminated could suffer from water borne diseases.
“We have several waterborne diseases, and this can cause a lot of suffering and death. The normal epidemic diseases, diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid, cholera.
“We know the different types of neglected tropical diseases, so all these are a big concern,” said WHO.
Water is essential to life, but in Harare, access to it has grown precarious.
The Harare City Council has been failing to provide water consistently.
Access to clean, potable, affordable water is essential for maintaining individual and public health. When people face barriers to obtaining safe water, it can have negative economic and social effects as well. In Harare, residents are scrambling to get enough clean water to drink, prepare meals and attend to basic hygiene.