BY SILAS NKALA
A MATABELELAND-BASED human rights organisation has urged government to implement the National Dam Safety Plan as envisaged in section 185 of its National Development Strategy One (NDS1) to alleviate water problems in the region.
The call was made yesterday by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) during its #MondayWaterAction campaign that seeks to push government and local authorities to address water challenges affecting the region, especially Bulawayo.
MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said communities in the region were still experiencing water shortages, especially in rural areas.
“#MondayWaterAction seeks government indulgence to implement section 185 of the NDS1.
“It asks how far government has gone in terms of implementing the National Dam Safety Plan.
“Last year, we had incidents of a number of dams spilling due to too much rain, and this year we have already been advised that we will experience excessive rains,” Maphosa said.
“Section 185 is one of government’s targets in implementing NDS1 and it promised to come up with a National Dam Safety Plan and to implement it.
“We are now saying how far have they gone in terms of implementing the plan.
“When dams are not safe they lead to human rights violations because when they spill they can affect communities downstream and people can die, people can be swept away because of those dam spills,” he said.
Maphosa said lack of a proper national dam safety plan could affect livelihoods of communities.
“In Bulawayo last year, dams were not filling up because the catchment areas were not properly managed.
“So dam safety management is very critical in terms of catchment area management, even for Bulawayo, to ensure that we get water for our dams.”
This came as Bulawayo City Council yesterday re-introduced a 48-hour water-shedding programme in the city.
Town clerk Christopher Dube, in a notice to residents, said the 48-hour city-wide water-shedding programme was prompted by the continued power cuts at Ncema, Fernhill and Criterion waterworks.
He said power challenges at Nyamandlovu Rochester were also persisting.
“In that regard due to the depletion of the raw water reservoir (buffer) the 48-hour shedding programme is being introduced to help conserve water and assist in balancing the city water reservoirs,” Dube said.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga could not immediately respond to questions sent to her.