Zim needs $700m for water

In order to ensure that every person in Zimbabwe has access to safe drinking water in keeping with the seventh UN Millennium Development Goal, the country urgently needs at least $700 million, according to a senior Unicef official.

The money is needed to establish long-term water reservoirs and infrastructure.

Unicef’s Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene section, Kiwe Sebunya said Zimbabwe was lagging behind in its quest to meet MDG 7.

“Zimbabwe is off track in its efforts to meet MDG 7,” he remarked in Nyanga at the ongoing media workshop commissioned by the UN organisation.

The country is currently grappling with severe shortages of clean water in both urban and rural areas, mostly due to an acute lack of infrastructure.

Policy makers, humanitarian organisations and water experts have bemoaned the high level of pollution of water bodies that are sources of drinking water, especially in Harare and Chitungwiza whose municipalities are being accused of discharging raw sewage and industrial effluent into the rivers.

Development partners including UKAID and Unicef recently availed US$50 million towards water and sanitation, an intervention that is targeting 2, 5 million beneficiaries.

Non-state humanitarian agencies have in the past helped by drilling boreholes as a short-term intervention to improve clean water availability, particularly during the 2008-9 cholera outbreak that killed more than 4,000 people.

However, Sebunya, while acknowledging the importance of boreholes, said lasting solutions that include the development of sustainable water reticulation systems should be adopted.

“Boreholes are never a solution for urban water. What is needed is investment in the country’s water reticulation systems. The country’s urban water reticulation systems are very old and need replacement but this happens at a very huge cost,” he added.

Several projects involving the construction of major water reservoirs have been on the cards for a long time.

They include Kunzvi Dam just outside Harare, Tokwe Mukorsi in Masvingo and the Zambezi Water Project in southern Zimbabwe.

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