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Partners join hands to tackle water crisis in cholera-weary Zimbabwe

A decade after the 2008 cholera outbreak that affected more than 100,000 people in Zimbabwe, leaving at least 4,200 of them dead, conditions that allowed the cholera epidemic to flourish still exist in most of the southern African country’s urban areas.A damning 60-page Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “Troubled Water: Burst Pipes, Contaminated Wells, and Open Defecation in Zimbabwe’s Capital,” released in November 2013, described how limited access to potable water and sanitation services was forcing citizens to resort to using water from unprotected sources and other unhygienic practices such as open defecation.

This situation is set to change as Zimbabwe is among those countries that are benefiting from the “Cities of the Future” programme, an initiative of the Africa Water Facility (AWF) together with global development partners that include the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Water Partnership (GWP).

Marondera Municipality – a town of about 65,000 residents located about 75km east of the capital Harare – was chosen by the government of Zimbabwe to receive the support for the development of an integrated water and sanitation master plan that would become a model for the whole country.

Project engineer Thami Mpala said on Friday the Marondera pilot project is the first of its kind in the country, where they are developing nature-based solutions by managing resources in a sustainable and integrated way.

“The Marondera Integrated Urban Water Management Master Plan is a project that involves the rehabilitation of water and sewer infrastructure within Marondera and also provides innovative plans for the smart management of water resources through adopting an integrated approach where nature based solutions are used,” Mpala said.

The project has received €2.3million (US$2.6 million) from AfDB, the government of Zimbabwe and GWP.

“The integrated approach looks at water, storm water, wastewater, and solid waste holistically whilst also capacitating institutions and fostering stakeholder engagement,” Mpala added.

Marondera Town Clerk Josiah Musuwo said the municipality, which – like all others in the country – is hamstrung by financial challenges, would benefit from the project greatly in the sense that there will be immediate rehabilitation of critical water and sewer services that were previously strained due to aging of infrastructure and lack of maintenance.

“The people of Marondera will also benefit through various outcomes of the project such as small business income generating projects within the catchment that embrace the spirit of the integrated approach and using waste as a resource for the sustainable management of our resources,” Musuwo said.

He added that through this project Zimbabwe would have a cleaner environment, and a smart integrated way of managing our natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

The project is a direct response to the findings of HRW whose report recommended that the government take steps in ensuring access to water and sanitation facilities by all citizens through investing in low-cost sanitation and water strategies.

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