Water crisis affects disabled

water_dombotombo_damHARARE The water crisis in Marondera Town, partly due to the sabotage of a water pump at Nyambuya Dam by striking council workers, has made life difficult for hundreds of residents living with disabilities. (Pictured: Residents collect water from Nyambuya Dam)

50-year-old Mavis Muvirimi from Rujeko Suburb, who suffered from polio which left her wheelchair bound in 1970, has not taken a bath for the past two weeks since her household water tap ran dry. She lives with two teenage grandchildren who are mentally challenged and could not fetch water from a dam at a nearby disused council quarry site. The dam was declared dangerous and a no go area by the local authority. She narrated her ordeal to the Zimbabwean.

Water supplies became erratic late last month when disgruntled and striking council workers reportedly blew up a water pump at Nyambuya Dam. Nyambuya supplied the town with safe and clean water. Since the sabotage was committed, households in Rujeko, Rusike, Yellow City, Dombotombo, Nyameni and parts of Cherutombo Suburbs have virtually been without water supplies.

Able bodied residents have defied council regulations by drawing water from an unsafe and prohibited Dombotombo Quarry Dam. The dam area was declared dangerous by the council. People desperate for water have since removed a security fence barricading the area from trespassers and defaced a prohibitive sign at the dam, inscribed DANGER, HOKOYO NGOZI. Water levels at the dam have since lowered and people collecting water some 20 meters below ground level. This would be an impossible task for people with disabilities.

Rocks surrounding the dam are slippery and some people have drowned in the dam as they attempted to draw water a few years ago. Since the dam has never run dry, its actual depth remains speculative. Former council workers at the site claimed it could be some 50 meters deep with an underground canal stretching some 15km to Wenimbe Dam.

Each of the 12 political ward boundaries in the town has an average 40 disabled people. This includes people disabled through different causes ranging from birth, accidents and old age. The blind were also part of the disabled community affected by the scarcity of water supplies.

Since the water crises affected the whole town, not every able bodied resident was willing to assist the physically handicapped with fetching water. It is an every man for himself state of affairs. A few available Good Samaritans were at times overwhelmed by their individual demand for water.

Council would do the disabled community invaluable service if it could provide them with water in small vehicle towed tanks.

The impending massive disruption of water supplies as council rehabilitates the aged water reticulation system, would further worsen the plight of the disabled constituency. Households would be forced to fetch water from a few boreholes sunk by UNICEF at schools, clinics and around residential suburbs. Marondera urban has an estimated 100 000 residents.

Town Mayor, councillor Farai Nyandoro said: UNICEF will sink one borehole at the central point of each ward in residential suburbs. Citing of boreholes took into account the needs of the disabled community and my office will do everything possible to ensure disadvantaged members in the town regularly have access to water. If need be, council will utilize its mobile water tanks to bring water within reach of the disabled.

Officials of an organization advocating for rights of people living with disabilities, National Council for Disabled People of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) based in Marondera echoed Muvirimis sentiments.

Post published in: Analysis

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