HARARE – Harare residents have warned that the water-rationing regime mulled by the city will further plunge the capital city into a disease outbreak era.
Community Water Alliance national coordinator Hildaberta Rwambiwa told the Daily News that they had warned council on the need to protect the city’s catchment areas but to no avail.
Rwambiwa’s remarks come as Harare City Council has said that in the coming two weeks, they will start water rationing as Lake Chivero levels have drastically reduced because of the lack of rains.
“The proposed water-rationing scheme, which is synonymous to the yesteryear disastrous South African ‘Operation Gcina amanzi’, is a strong statement on the health of residents in Harare. Community Water Alliance registered these concerns long back and raised a red flag on various water-related issues in Harare,” she said.
Rwambiwa added that prior to HCC’s water-rationing, CWA had raised concern on the poor catchment management and complacency to protect wetlands that acted as sponges for rains.
She said they had also told council of the continued pollution of water bodies in Harare and the city’s failure to come up with a clear climate change and variability strategy and policy.
The CWA national coordinator said in light of the inevitable rationing, council should come up with short, medium and long term plans to manage the city’s catchments as well as for the preservation of wetlands, pollution control and rehabilitation of streams.
Harare resident, Garry Stafford said the water problems in Harare had been foretold but no one listened.
He said unless people stopped building on wetlands, Lake Chivero would completely be destroyed.
“Wetlands replenish the lake and now at Chivero there are flash floods which do not benefit the city. The water is simply lost as overflow at the dam wall. However, if there were wetlands, that water would be stored and released gradually into Lake Chivero — replenishing it.
“Proposals to have a greenbelt conservancy around Lake Chivero have been presented but nothing has happened,” Stafford said.
During a tour of Lake Chivero, environmental management committee chairperson Kudzai Kadzombe said council is now working to protecting 11 wetlands for a start.
She said eventually the city wants to reclaim all the wetlands so that the city does not plunge into more water problems.
“The issue has, however, been political because of all the construction work that went on previously, but now we are working on ensuring that no construction work happens on wetlands and that we protect them so that future generations benefit,” Kadzombe said.