Water bowsers deployed to ease shortages

Ongoing water shortages in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, have forced municipal authorities to deploy water bowsers to parts of the city.

The city's two million population have experienced serious water shortages over the past two weeks due to pump failures at the ageing water treatment plant. It will take an estimated US $8.7 million to restore the dilapidated water distribution system.

The situation has been exacerbated by a shortage of water tankers. A municipal spokesman, Leslie Gwindi, told IRIN on Friday: "We are looking for as many water bowsers as possible to deploy in the affected suburbs."

Last week the situation deteriorated, leading to water cuts for up 10 hours a day. In some instances, high-density suburbs went without water for days and residents have resorted to getting water from unprotected wells, raising concerns over possible outbreaks of disease.

Bowsers have also been deployed to Chikurubi Maximum Prison and the Support Unit Camp, which houses prison officers and a rapid reaction unit of the police force outside Harare.

Although the municipality has said it did not have the resources or foreign currency to import water-purifying chemicals, analysts have attributed the current situation to political infighting among city councillors. Last month opposition Movement for Democratic Change councillors resigned en masse, claiming political interference in their duties.

In an attempt to stem rising concerns over the worsening conditions caused by the shortages, Minister of Water Resources Joyce Mujuru announced this week that the central government would step in.

"The government will now be responsible for the sourcing and treatment of water, which will then be delivered to the council reservoirs before the council can distribute it to residents," Mujuru told the state radio on Thursday.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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