The water situation in Harare has become a state of disaster and all stakeholders must work together to stem a calamity that could threaten the lives of the people.
The council is doing all it can to avert the disaster but there is need for collective action, given our observation as the MDC Local government secretaries during our tour of the water facilities in Harare.
Harare is located on a watershed that feeds into Lake Chivero and Lake Manyame and if not treated at the sewage plants, all pollution generated from the city’s industries, households and the small and medium enterprises will find its way into the city’s water bodies, thereby compromising and endangering the lives of residents.
Blue-green algae is making it almost impossible to treat water and the raw water parameters are no longer easy to treat as they have exceeded design capacity. The suction level has plummeted to just 4-5 metres above the lowest extraction level in the lake and below that level, the little water left will suck unacceptable dirt and endanger aquatic life.
The present level of chemicals in stock on all treatment plants ranges from 3-27 days, with major treatment chemicals such as chlorine, lime and aluminium sulphate only enough for 4, 11 and seven days respectively. The treatment capacity of the water works has been reduced to a parlous 300 mega litres per day, out of a potential 614 ML a day, a quantum that is inadequate to cater for the city’s residents.
As a party, we have held a meeting with the city authorities and we understand their predicament. We therefore recommend the following to avert the crisis in Harare:
- That council takes quick steps to ensure that residents are updated on the dam levels and the water supply situation regularly.
- That council liaises with central government and that government in turn ensures urgent provision of foreign currency to enable the city to have at least one month’s supply of chemicals in stock.
- That council works on urgent rehabilitation work to ensure efficient treatment of both water and waste water.
- That there be consultative and feedback programmes by councilors on the water and waste water situation in Harare.
- That an appeal be made to residents and government to pay their bills to ensure sustainability of services.
- That partnerships be established with all interested parties to rescue the situation by ensuring improved revenue collection. Council is also urged to be creative in terms of finding alternative ways of mobilizing resources by creating new revenue streams using local innovation and technology.
- That council officials, particularly the town clerk and other technical staff, diligently do their work and stop playing politics given the dire situation in Harare.
- That residents stop stream-bank cultivation as agricultural activities along the streams and valleys of Harare and Chitungwiza have caused a lot of siltation at Lake Chivero.
- That government and council work together and rein in ZESA to rescue the water situation in Harare and other towns and cities in the country so as to avoid a time bomb due to poor sanitation and drainage failures.
All stakeholders must work together to avoid a calamity in Harare and as the MDC local government team, we are monitoring all towns and cities to avert potential crises. We reiterate our call on government to provide all council authorities with adequate foreign currency to ensure a consistent supply of safe water to residents across the country’s towns and cities.
As a permanent solution to the water challenges in Harare, we urge government to prioritize the construction of Kunzwi and Musami dams, which have been on the cards for a long time with nothing tangible happening on the ground. Sloganeering around these key projects will only worsen the situation.
Eng. Elias Mudzuri
Secretary for Local Government
Movement for Democratic Change