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Water Woes Continue In Zimbabwe, Pending US$2 Billion Overhaul

Most of Zimbabwe’s cities and towns continue to face serious water supply problems despite the central government’s move this week to give the Zimbabwe National Water Authority control of all municipal and local water systems in the country.

Harare city authorities are thinking about introducing water rationing, as most parts of the city are in their third month without water.

Residents of the Midlands town of Kadoma said the supply is so unreliable that people have resorted to scooping rainwater out of unprotected sources like potholes.

Skeptics questioned whether the water authority could make much difference, noting it has come under fire for failing to ensure adequate irrigation for farmlands.

The World Bank recently estimated it will cost some US$10 billion, or Z$2.5 trillion, to completely overhaul Zimbabwe's water and sanitation infrastructure. Harare alone will need more than US$100 million to refurbish its water works and lines.

The World Bank report said the existing system was failing because rates are too low and there is insufficient foreign exchange to buy water treatment chemicals.

Joel Gabuza, a spokesman on the environment for the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that water systems should be left in local hands.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...