October 21 2012


The once “Sunshine City” has degenerated into a hub for uncollected garbage, flowing raw sewage and congested streets. It is now home to hundreds of street kids and vagabonds.  Open defecation is rampant across all corners and it has become normal for people to walk past heaps of fresh human waste in the Central Business District (CBD).


They just look aside.


So sorry is the state of Harare that in some high-density suburbs, they have christened some bus stops PaMarara, the Shona word for a place of rubbish. Residents have turned to dumping their garbage at open spaces in their neighbourhoods simply because the city fathers are failing to collect refuse. This situation calls for intense hygiene education for sustained behaviour change amongst residents.


The current status quo has been made worse by the proliferation of street vendors both in the CBD and high-density suburbs, as people try to eke out an honest living. While Council has by-laws to regulate the discharge of refuse, the local authority appears to be failing to enforce them. For several years, council has been fighting running battles with vendors and commuter omnibus drivers.


Harare City Council Chairperson for the Environmental Management Committee, Stewart Mtizwa, said Council was not to blame because it “inherited the problems”.


 “The cause of this rot in the city is simple. There was no service delivery for the past 20 years,” he said. “We inherited a lot of problems from the commission that was there before us”. Mtizwa also said service delivery deteriorated during the time the Council was outsourcing services such as refuse collection.


Mtizwa said, as the Planning Authority, the commission had not done its homework to ensure city by-laws were adhered to by both individuals and industry.


He added the economic meltdown had also worsened the situation as a huge number of jobless people, including qualified professionals, had resorted to vending for a living.


“Because most of our stalls were situated at bus termini, vendors are now following people to their workplaces and are now selling their wares on pavements and at street corners,” he said.


Council, he said, was in the process of designating ideal places where vendors would be allowed to operate from legally. The places would have adequate litter bins and ablution facilities. Mtizwa, however, believes Harare could still be taken back to its Sunshine status, revealing that the Council would this week receive 27 new refuse trucks, to bring the total compactors to 60.


The city requires about 120 trucks to effectively service all the areas. Harare Residents Trust (HRT) communications officer, Charles Mazorodze, said council lacked a clear-cut policy to address the rising demand for services. “Basically, the population in Harare has been growing over the past 10 years against dwindling service delivery,” said Mazorodze.


“The Harare City Council has no concrete plan to address service delivery and has no strategic direction in terms of refuse collection.”


He said council was actually short-changing ratepayers, who were paying refuse charges every month yet their refuse was not being collected.


 “Council, in liaison with the private sector and central government, must come up with a comprehensive plan and also channel resources towards the purchase of adequate compactors,” he said.


“It remains the duty of the city council to ensure adequate litter bins are available at convenient places,” he said.


Environmental Management Agency (EMA) acting education and publicity officer, Rambwayi Mapako, said the problem of litter was a result of lack of innovation among stakeholders. “The problem is all to do with us, individual households and companies. Normally we are supposed to be recycling because 70% of the waste we produce is bio-degradable,” he said.


Mapako said it was everybody’s role to ensure a clean environment: “There is need for collaboration between and among stakeholders, including the media industry in supporting activities aimed at cleaning up the city.”


The situation as it is right now is very worrying especially considering the fact that we are now moving into the rainy season. Cholera is still fresh amongst us and Typhoid is even worse. A lot still needs to be done to ensure that as the season progresses, all this litter and garbage lying around every corner of the city is not translated into another 2008-09 cholera epidemic.



20 October 2012


WATER-shedding that was recently introduced in the city is not helping in alleviating the water crisis in Bulawayo, amid revelations that daily consumption remains significantly high and does not tally with the city’s daily pumping capacity, a Cabinet minister has confirmed.


In an interview on the sidelines of a tour of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline link project last Wednesday, Water Resources Development and Management Minister, Dr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said while the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) had introduced water-shedding in order to spread the available water supplies till the next rain season by reducing daily consumption, this was not the case as most residents were now hoarding water whenever it is made available.


“The city can supply just 95mgl a day but residents are still consuming an average of 110 mgl, this is because most of them now hoard water whenever it is available, filling every possible container including bathtubs.


When the water comes back again, they empty those containers by watering their gardens and refill them, which goes on to affect the daily consumption figures because instead of reducing, we are clearly wasting a lot of water. Further to this, the high number of leakages and pipe bursts around the city further worsen this state of affairs, which saw a lot of water go to waste.


Minister Sipepa Nkomo was quote saying that, “Right now we are pushing for the completion of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline link project. This will not do much in solving the crisis at hand, instead it will see shedding being reduced by just 24 hours as we will still be having a shortfall of 34 mgl,”.


Meanwhile, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo, who was also part of the touring party, took a swipe at Bulawayo City Councillors for panicking at the last minute at a problem they knew has always been part of the city for many years. He said there was a need to have Councillors who had the necessary town planning expertise that would see them being able to avert such problems.


“What I will now do is go and tell these political parties to give me Councillors with the requisite expertise to hold such positions because all things being fair we shouldn’t be having such problems.


He said any Local Authority must plan ahead rather than waiting for a situation to occur for them to start panicking. “To be frank, residents in the city are continually paying for water which is not there at all. According to World Standards, we must be ensuring that by end of this year about 80% of our citizens have access to water while by end of 2013 over 90% should have access. With this rate, we are clearly not being sincere to this endeavour,” said Minister Chombo.


The minister said while there was progress at the pipeline link project, it was still a cause for concern that the water was still stuck at Mtshabezi with residents having to endure days without water supplies.


The city council adopted a rigorous water-shedding exercise that has seen residents going for over 96 hours per week without supplies.


Two of the city’s supply dams, Lower Ncema and Umzingwane, were also recently decommissioned with two more set to be decommissioned before the end of the year.


Bulawayo is said to be operating with a deficit of 4 dams as an additional supply dam is supposed to be constructed after every 10 years. The last supply dam to be constructed and used by the city was Insiza in 1976.


48 Percent of Rural Folk Use Bush Toilets.

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22 October 2012


BULAWAYO — 32 years after Zimbabwe gained independence, about 48% of its rural folk still defecate in the bush, exposing each other to diarrhoeal diseases, a cabinet minister said last week.


Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Minister of Water Resources Development and Management blamed the increasing outbreaks of water-borne diseases like (typhoid, choler etc) in rural areas to the use of the bush system by villagers.


“Ministers were laughing at me when I told them that our assessments show that 48% of Zimbabweans in rural areas use bush toilets,” said Sipepa-Nkomo. “They could not believe me. Our studies show that this is true. I told my colleagues in Cabinet that some of them could not fit into some of the toilets that villagers use.”


He added: “Most homes in the country especially in rural areas have no toilets. I was in Mtshabezi on Wednesday [last week] and nine out of 10 households there did not have toilets.”


Sipepa-Nkomo was speaking to journalists after touring Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in Bulilima and Mangwe districts in Plumtree last week.


The minister emphasised the need to educate villagers on the importance of having toilets, especially the older generations.


“I think first of all, most villagers do not appreciate the need to have and use toilets. Most of them grew up in an era where it was unthinkable to use toilets,” said Sipepa-Nkomo. “When I was growing up, there was nothing like that [toilets].”


Nkomo went on to state that children in rural areas die before the age of 5 due to pneumonia and diarrhoea-related diseases as a result of poor sanitation.


Nkomo said: “Most child deaths are related to the lack of access to sanitation and safe water as well as poor hygiene practices. We need the DfID funded and UNICEF managed  Rural WASH Project to help villagers realise the need to have toilets to protect themselves from diseases.”





Monday, 17 September 2012 17:41


Zimbabwe is this week commemorating National Sanitation Week against the backdrop of outbreaks of diseases such as bilharzia which is fast becoming an emerging major health problem in the country.


The sanitation week that was launched in Harare under the theme Proper Waste Management for a Clean, Safe and Healthy Environment, seeks to remind stakeholders of the need to ensure that Zimbabweans have access to proper sanitation and clean water.

With reports that bilharzia, cholera and typhoid outbreaks have been recorded in some parts of the country, both urban and rural areas, it raises questions on why the country should still be experiencing such archaic diseases at a time when the world is putting efforts in promoting good hygiene.


In an interview at the launch of the National Sanitation Week in Harare, the Environmental Services Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Mr Goldberg Mangwandu says Zimbabwe needs to increase efforts to promote good hygiene and invest in toilets and clean water provision. This comes at a time when the country is grappling with diseases that are caused by compromised sanitation hygiene and water shortages.


“As a country we are worried about the outbreak of typhoid, cholera and bilharzia which are primitive disease which can be avoided through improved sanitation, we are saying there is need to revive the community health clubs for awareness building,” Mangwandu said.


Focus of the Nation now is on zero tolerance to open defecation. The WASH Sector is trying to make sure that the campaign against Open Defecation bears fruit because such practices also contribute to poor sanitation and contamination of water sources.” Meanwhile, the City of Harare has embarked on a programme of educating the public on the need to improve on hygiene to avoid the outbreaks of water-borne diseases.


Zimbabwe paid a high price for its limited investment in sanitation and water programmes between 2008 and 2009 when more than 4 000 people died from cholera and over 100 000 were infected because of poor hygiene and a lack of toilet facilities.

The recent recurrence of bilharzia and typhoid should serve as a bold wake up call to relevant authorities to ensure that people have access to proper sanitation facilities and clean water.

Typhoid Hits Chegutu

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Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:34


13 suspected cases of typhoid have been reported in Chegutu raising fears of a major diarrhoeal disease outbreak as most local authorities have failed to provide clean water.


It is almost a year since the country recorded outbreaks of typhoid which is a water-borne disease.


To date, over 4 800 suspected cases have been reported with two deaths and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare says the outbreak is far from over as fresh reports have been recorded in Chegutu.


The Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira says fresh reports have been recorded in Kadoma and Chegutu and fears are that the disease could spread to other areas as the rainy season approaches.


“It is embarrassing for a country like Zimbabwe to have outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid. These are diseases of filth and local authorities are to blame. “Their failure to produce portable water has led to these outbreaks and they should put their houses in order. We have reported fresh cases in Chegutu and Kadoma,” she said.


Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation says it will continue to support Zimbabwe in its efforts to contain outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid and cholera.


He said its major intervention now is the integrated disease and surveillance and response programme.


Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb was the epicentre of the typhoid outbreak which then spread to other areas such as Chitungwiza, Bindura and Bulawayo and other areas.


Experts say the solution is a guaranteed adequate supply of safe water, good waste management and proper hygiene practices by the community.


As the country commemorates National Sanitation Week it is important for local authorities to ensure that they prioritize the supply of clean water and proper waste disposal programmes.


Experts say local authorities should prioritise the provision of clean water to rid the country of diseases such as typhoid which have been described by some analysts as primitive.


Chegutu Typhoid Cases Rise

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Friday, 26 October 2012 14:40


Over 208 suspected cases of typhoid have so far been recorded in Chegutu since the outbreak was reported last week. Suspected cases of typhoid in Chegutu have risen by more than 250% within a week. Last week, 83 cases of typhoid were reported in Chegutu, but the figure has now risen to 208.


The acting Medical Officer for Chegutu District, Dr Claudius Murumbi confirmed that two cases have so far been screened and confirmed and one of the patient is still admitted at Chegutu Hospital. He said the major cases have been recorded at the ZMDC suburb in Chegutu an area which is near unprotected sewer ponds.


Dr Murumbi however said water samples have been tested and the laboratory results indicate that the water is not the source of the typhoid. Heads of department from the Chegutu municipality including Health Officers, Director for District Civil Protection, District Administrators and representatives of Chegutu Rural District Council held an urgent meeting to review the typhoid outbreak. On the other hand, Chegutu Municipality has since closed all illegal food outlets and has issued prohibition orders to all food vendors in an attempt to contain the outbreak.


Zimbabwe has for the past year been battling to contain outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases. Harare’s Dzivaresekwa and Kuwadzana suburbs were the epicentre of the typhoid outbreak which then spread to other areas such as Chitungwiza and Bindura and other areas.


Experts say local authorities should prioritise the provision of clean water to rid the country of diseases such as typhoid which have been described by some analysts as primitive.



Tsholotsho — A US$50 million Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme expected to improve access to about 2,5 million people in rural areas was launched in July 2012.


Officially launched at Mkubazi Primary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North Province, the programme is expected to see the rehabilitation of existing water and sanitation infrastructure, building of new WASH infrastructure and launch of community-led sanitation programmes.


"Equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene remain a major concern as they are fundamental to the health and well being of children," the then United Nations Children's Fund country representative Dr Peter Salama said.


Funded by the United Kingdom's Department of Foreign and International Development (DfID), the fund manager UNICEF will ensure that a total of 7 400 broken down boreholes are rehabilitated, 1 500 new boreholes are drilled and 15 000 latrines are constructed in 1 500 rural schools. UNICEF who is going to implement the project through already existing Government structures and in conjunction with Non Governmental Organizations said the project would run in five provinces with low water, sanitation and hygiene access form June 2012 to June 2016. These are Mashonaland West, Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.


"Access to improved sanitation is integral to human dignity as well as to the reduction of sanitation-related diseases. The Rural WASH Project will support demand-driven, community led approaches to mobilise communities to completely eliminate open defecation," Dr Salama said.


Speaking at the same occasion, Water Resources Development and Management Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said 75 percent of the 47 000 previously functional boreholes were not working. Minister Sipepa-Nkomo attributed the limited access to clean water to drying of public and private funding, which mostly affected rural communities, hence initiation of the Rural WASH Project.


Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatious Chombo said the Rura WASH Project is going to go a long way in restoring the capacity of local authorities in service provision, which had been compromised by sanctions, among other factors. He urged local authorities in rural areas to work with WASH implementers for the success of the project. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was guest of honor at the function said without a development strategy for the rural areas the country could not succeed.




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