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Deficient Water Supplies the Focus as Typhoid Hits Harare, Zimbabwe

Harare Health Services Director Dr. Prosper Chonzi said city water is safe for drinking - but many residents go without city water for months at a time and eventual tap into unsafe sources of water

Typhoid continued to spread in the high density suburbs of Harare, Zimbabawe, with at least 50 news cases being reported a day, authorities said Wednesday.

City officials admitted they cannot guarantee a supply of clean water to residents. The city said new water sources are required in the capital and Greater Harare, which includes the towns of Norton, Chitungwiza and Ruwa.

Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi said the city's water supply situation has been deteriorating rather than improving.

Mahachi said water treatment facilities at the Morton Jaffray Waterworks, just outside Harare, have not been refurbished since 1970.

The facility, installed in 1956 to cater for a population of only 250,000 is not sufficient to provide water for a city of more than a million people.

Mahachi said the aging water treatment facilities, a growing population and high water demand are all contributing to the scarcity of water in the city. The city requires at least 1,200 megalitres of water a day but is only managing to produce 705 megalitres.

Consequently, Harare is considering the construction of two new reservoirs to meet the demands of the capital and its satellite towns.

Harare Health Services Director Dr. Prosper Chonzi said city water is safe for drinking. But many residents go without city water for months, and tap unsafe sources.

Councilor Refias Masunda of Kuwadzana said the city fathers, with partner organizations like UNICEF, are working flat out to address the water crisis in the city.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera said he is worried about the situation in the city, but is confident the water problem can be addressed with more government assistance.

Biology lecturer Davison Saungweme of Pennsylvania State University said authorities are treating the wrong symptoms by closing market stalls across Harare, voicing the suspicion that this is intended to give residents a sense action is being taken.