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Local Control of Water Seen Helping End Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic

The decision by the Zimbabwean government to transfer control of public water systems back to local authorities from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, widely considered an inept parastatal, has been hailed as an important step toward providing clean water and thereby bringing a continuing and deadly cholera epidemic under control.

Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, a member of parliament for the Harare suburb of Budiriro, an epicenter of the epidemic in its earlier stages, said the move will address the root cause of the spread of the disease which the World Health Organization says has taken 3,323 lives.

Months-long water cutoffs in Harare and other municipalities under ZINWA management led residents to dig open wells that were easily contaminated with the cholera bacterium from human fecal matter deposited in the open due to the unavailability of flush toilets.

The central government took control of local water supplies in 2006 in a step many observers said was intended to capture a significant source of public revenues while denying those funds to city councils of larger municipalities dominated by the opposition.

Dzinotyiweyi told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he wants to see government tackle the epidemic at its source in the collapsed water and sanitation infrastructure and be more active in boosting public awareness.

More reports from VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe…