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Water Along With Food And Fuel Getting Scarce In Harare, Zimbabwe

Residents of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare say water shortages in the city have reached alarming levels, such that some now say they fear a public health emergency with households going for up to five days without running water.

Harare needs 900 megaliters a day, experts say, but at present the capacity of the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works is just 600 megaliters of purified water.

Frequent power cuts by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority are also limiting the ability of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to supply water to the city.

Critics say the capital’s water supply system is simply insufficient to meet the needs of an expanding population now estimated at 3 million. And such experts say ZINWA does not have the capacity or the funds to meet the demand for clean water.

Senior ZINWA officials could not be reached for for comment. But a spokesman for the parastatal enterprise, Nicholas Mukarakate, told state television that the disruption of water supplies stems from machinery breakdowns at the Morton Jaffray plant, which was operating at 50 percent of capacity. He promised a solution by Saturday.

Water Resources Minister Munacho Mutezo said the government is asking consumers to bear with the difficulties because it is “battling to provide water for everybody.”

Executive Director Ngoni Mudege of the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with water in short supply, households are turning to other sources, posing a health risk.

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