UNICEF to stop water provisions

United Nations agency Unicef will next year stop supplying water chemicals to Zimbabwe's cash-strapped local authorities, it has been established.

Unicef has, since 2009, played a priceless role in supporting the provision of clean portable water in urban local authorities, through the procurement of water treatment chemicals. The UN agency intervened after a cholera outbreak claimed over 4 000 lives.

The support facility was extended at the height of a deadly mix of hyperinflation and a devastating cholera outbreak, when local authorities had completely lost the capacity to supply clean water to residents. Unicef's decision to stop buying the chemicals has caused consternation in local authorities, who have been struggling to balance their books even with the Unicef intervention.

Unicef chief, Peter Salama, said their intervention had only been a stop-gap and was meant to run for two years to mitigate the cholera outbreak.

Local Minister Ignatius Chombo said the government was grateful for Unicef’s help and hoped the local authorities would cope without its assistance.

"I wish to emphasise that as a ministry, we are convinced that local authorities have been given ample time to prepare for the takeover and therefore should not be found wanting come 2012,” he said.

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