Boost for water and sanitation services in Zim

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received an additional $6.7 million from the Australian Government’s International Development Assistance Programme to improve water and sanitation services in Zimbabwe.

Under the new grant more than 260,000 people from Chiredzi, Rusape, Bindura, Chipinge, Karoi, Shurugwi and Plumtree will benefit from intensified efforts to reduce the risks of cholera and other water borne diseases through the rehabilitation of water and sanitation systems and hygiene promotion interventions. The grant will also help revive institutional capacity by adding efficiencies to the billing systems and customer service, aimed at sustaining operations in the long term.

“This support is critical for improving access to services for the poorest women and children,” said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Peter Salama. “Investment in safe water and appropriate sanitation is critical to prevent outbreaks of water borne diseases and will assist Zimbabwe to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals”.

UNICEF's Water and Sanitation Emergency Rehabilitation and Risk Reduction programme was launched in 2009. Under it, more than 4 million people in 20 Urban Councils have benefitted from the provision of water treatment chemicals supplied to local authorities and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority catchments.

Additionally, urban councils have been assisted to rehabilitate water and sewage systems in major towns and cities as a measure to minimise the recurrence and extent of cholera and other water borne diseases.

New boreholes (167) have also been drilled in urban centres to provide alternative water sources to communities and 56 high-yielding boreholes have been rehabilitated at the Nyamandlovu aquifer near Bulawayo. These boreholes complement that city’s water supply and provide up to 12,000 cubic meters of safe water per day, or about 10 per cent of total requirements.

Zimbabwe’s water and sanitation situation remains in a critical state in both urban and rural areas and the current typhoid outbreak in Harare continues to underscore the vulnerability of the water and sanitation infrastructure in urban areas.

It's estimated that 27% of the nation’s population do not access safe water and 40% do not have access to safe sanitation.

Since 2009, Australia has contributed over US$27 million through UNICEF in support of the Inclusive Government’s efforts to restore basic social services, including water and sanitation, with a focus on urban areas and small towns.

This funding contributed to the prevention of another cholera outbreak on the scale of 2008/2009, which saw the worst outbreak in the country’s history, recording 98,522 cumulative cases and 4,282 deaths. During the last cholera season 2010/2011, there were 1,134 cases and 45 deaths, a 98% reduction in both cases and deaths.

“The Emergency Rehabilitation and Risk Reduction Programme is making a positive contribution to our strategic goal to reduce poverty, save lives and promote opportunities for all regardless of gender, age or physical attributes,” said Australia’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Matthew Neuhaus.

UNICEF, together with Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development will be launching a major rural WASH initiative in March 2012 to complement this work and address the deterioration of water and sanitation facilities in rural areas.

Post published in: Africa News

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