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Zimbabwe's urban majority have no access to basic water

by Stephen Jakes
04 Dec 2023 at 11:03hrs | Views
Most households in urban centres have no access to basic water and only 48,4% having that access amid fears this will result in outbreak of diseases.

Latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2023 report revealed that 48.4% of households had access to basic water services. Routine bacteriological testing of water is necessary in order to ascertain that these water services are free from faecal contamination.

It noted that being free from faecal and chemical contamination will enable the sources to be classified as safely managed.

"The Ministry responsible for Health needs to ensure that there is routine testing of water at district level by making sure water testing equipment and consumables are available. Nationally, the proportion of households that had water cuts due to arrears increased from 4.7% in 2020 to 5.5% in 2023. Access to clean, safe water and adequate sanitation facilities is a basic human right. According to the National Development Strategy 1, the thrust of improved water supply during the strategy period hinges on ensuring that the proportion of the country’s population using a secure, potable drinking water source increases," states the report.

It noted that lack of secure and potable water can cause outbreaks of water borne diseases like dysentery and cholera.

"It is recommended that local authorities should engage in other debt recovery measures other than cutting off households’ water suppliers. About 64% of urban households did not have hygiene services available i.e., they had no hand washing facility, water and soap. Handwashing after using the toilet is very critical in the prevention of diarrheal diseases," Zimvac said.

The report said the Ministry responsible for Health and its partners as well as local authorities need to come up with promotional campaigns to encourage urban households to put up hand washing facilities at their dwellings and also making sure there is a constant supply of water and soap at the facilities.  

The report noted that 85% of the surveyed households were connected to either council or Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) water.

"Manicaland (92%) and Bulawayo (91%) had the highest proportion of households connected to either council or ZINWA water. Only 25% of the connected households accessed water seven days a week, while 6% accessed water only one day per week," said the report.

It stated that the proportion of households which had water piped into their dwellings as their preferred main drinking water source was 48.4%. Government is encouraged to continue with the borehole drilling programme as the majority of households have trust with their water source.

"In addition, measures should be put in place to build household confidence in Council/ Municipality water especially for Harare. Most households in Harare preferred protected wells (39.7%) and boreholes (30.1%) for their drinking water. Only 19.1% preferred drinking water piped into their dwellings. Most households in Bulawayo (86.5%), preferred water piped into their dwellings for drinking. Most households were not satisfied with water supply service offered by either the local authority or ZINWA, 33% were dissatisfied and 22% very dissatisfied," it said.

Zim,vac noted that the quality of water provided was said to be satisfactory by 46% of the households. However, 79% of households in Harare were dissatisfied with the water quality.

"At least 98% of the sampled households were accessing water from improved water sources. The proportion of households which accessed basic water services for drinking was 48.4% and 49.1% accessed limited services. Most of the households in the majority of the domains were accessing drinking water from basic water services. Attention should be given to Epworth (22.7%) and Harare South (14.6%) with a significant percentage of households accessing unimproved water. The majority of urban households (94%) travelled less than 500m to the nearest preferred main drinking water source," it said.

Source - Byo24News