“For 61-year-old Sarah Chikwanha from water-starved Chitungwiza, a town about 25 kilometres outside Harare, Zimbabwe, there is no choice. She must buy her water from illegal water traders, whose businesses have sprung up across the country.
“We only have water once weekly in Chitungwiza, and so I have no choice but to buy from dealers at 95 dollars for a 2,500-litre tank,” Chikwanha told IPS.
These new, illegal businesses are the result of the dire need for water, as rationing in towns and cities continues because of shortages of water treatment chemicals in this southern African nation.
Harare’s mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, has gone on record saying that the council needs three million dollars a month for water treatment chemicals, a challenge compounded by the city’s obligation to supply water to neighbouring towns like Chitungwiza, Norton, and Ruwa.
Statistics from the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), an advocacy group, indicate that only 192,000 households in Harare are connected to the water system, while the rest depend on boreholes or rainwater.
Harare needs 1,300 megalitres of water daily, but the current supply ranges from 600 to 700 megalitres.
Councillors from Chitungwiza, where Chikwanha lives, told IPS that the council there failed to pay for water supplied by Harare’s Lake Chivero, thus intensifying water rationing in a town of nearly two million people. People have now turned to wells, streams and inadequate boreholes, as well as illegal traders, for their water.
Panganayi Charumbira, a councillor from Harare’s Budiriro low-income suburb, told IPS that both Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas were affected. “The water crisis is getting worse in towns, but it’s even worse in the countryside,” Charumbira said.”
Read more: All Africa