Women in Bindura have taken the town’s municipality to task over critical water shortages which are threatening a resurgent of water-borne diseases.
Residents who attended a recent tet-a-tat with the Bindura Municipality Executives organised by the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD), said they have resorted to getting water from unprotected sources which have put them at the mess of falling sick.
“We have not been having running water for weeks now. It’s a really terrible situation because we risk falling sick from water-borne diseases. We are having to risk our lives while nothing is being done to alleviate this problem,” said one attendee.
Water shortages were to blame for the worst cholera outbreak in the country’s history, which killed more than 4,000 people between 2008 and 2009.
Authorities in Bindura blame the reduced water levels at Mazowe River which supplies the bulk of the raw water to the mining town.
The river is struggling to carry and deliver relief water supplied by Mwenje Dam, 40km away, to the water treatment plant on the outskirts of Bindura town.
This is caused by deep holes and ditches created by illegal gold panners which are sucking up all the water before it reaches its destination.
The immediate plan for Bindura Municipality is the construction of a pipeline to Masembura Dam in Bindura South, 25km away from the water treatment plant.
To top it off, Acting Bindura Town Clerk Kelton Chinowaita, said financial challenges have been slowing down the repair of burst and old pipes which are causing water leakages.
“We have to repair old pipes which continue to leak daily and in the process, we lose a lot of treated water on a daily basis.
“The big challenge is the money to repair them. We had to divert the devolution funds from the government to repair some but we still have a lot which are yet to be repaired and that continues to deprive residents of their water, he said.
He, however, noted that it was concerning that residents abscond from paying their monthly rates which makes it difficult to function properly as most of the day to day activities rely on the ratepayers’ money.
He also noted that Bindura was faced with a growing population which means demand for more water.
However, some residents retorted that despite them paying their rates religiously, the municipality has been short-changing them on service delivery.
“We always pay our rates on time because we are duty-bound but it’s the municipality that keeps on giving us the short end of the stick by not delivering as they should. It becomes difficult to continue paying for a service you are not getting. We hope through this engagement, they will change their attitude,” said one woman who attended the meeting.
Populations in major cities continue to grow, but there is little investment in supporting. The lack of foreign direct investment has also led to infrastructure decay, which has hit urban areas hard.
Urban councils say falling revenues, interference and little government support have impacted on services while creaking infrastructure, a growing urban population and effects of Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis have added to the woes.
IYWD has been on a campaign to empower women on devolution, community development and policy making initiative through organising engagements between political and soci0-economic leaders and communities.