GOVERNMENT and local authorities have been urged to ensure provision of basic water and sanitation infrastructure in order to effectively deal with the cholera and typhoid outbreaks, the former which has claimed the lives of 30 people countrywide and affected over 5 000.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) yesterday reproached government and local authorities over continuously playing the blame game, saying they must concentrate on restoring infrastructure and social services to save lives.
“The cholera outbreak highlights the failure of government to maintain basic public health standards,” Itai Rusike, the CWGH executive director said.
Rusike said the main problem was that in most urban residents go for months without tap water, forcing them to dig shallow and unprotected wells and boreholes that can be contaminated by raw sewage flowing from burst pipes.
“Cities, once the epitome of good hygiene, have now been turned into big communal villages. Practically and in the short-term, people need clean water – they need adequate aqua tablets, they need boreholes; they need water bowsers as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Rusike said local authorities were in charge of all water delivery, sewerage and refuse collection and were the recipients of all rates paid by residents that expected proper service delivery, yet there were reports that they were diverting money paid by residents to buy luxury cars and giving each other loans.
He said Zimbabwe needs consistent supply of clean water in urban areas if the country is to end the burden of waterborne diseases.
Most of Zimbabwe’s water and sewer pipes are archaic as they were constructed during the colonial era and have not been refurbished for the past 38 years.
ZimRights in a statement also said cholera and typhoid were hygiene-related ailments fuelled by poor water reticulation systems in Harare, apart from lapses in personal hygiene.