Fresh cholera outbreak fears hit waterless Harare

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There are fears of a fresh outbreak of cholera and typhoid in Zimbabwe with the capital Harare facing a severe water crisis.

Harare is said to have only one week of clean water left.

Last year, Zimbabwe suffered its worst cholera outbreak in a decade, which killed at least 26 people.

The country has also been facing intermittent outbreaks of typhoid, which is also a water borne disease.

Zimbabwe is in the grips of its worst economic crisis in a decade that has seen inflation become the second highest in the world after Venezuela while citizens endure shortages of foreign currency, fuel, and electricity cuts that last up to 18 hours.

The cash-strapped government has been struggling to raise enough foreign currency for water treatment while most of Harare’s water and sewer infrastructure is in a state of disrepair.

On Monday, Harare closed its main water works, the Morton Jaffray water treatment plant after chemicals ran out due to foreign currency challenges.

The water treatment plant was temporarily reopened on Wednesday morning, but officials said it is likely to close again as the chemicals will only last for a week.

On Wednesday, finance minister Mthuli Ncube, who is in New York as part of Zimbabwe’s delegation to the UN summit acknowledged the crisis and said he would release $72, 3m ( US$4m).

“If left unchecked, there is a real threat of the re-emergence of water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which caused untold suffering to our people,” Ncube said.

Ncube also noted that the water crisis was not limited to Harare alone, but the whole country.

“Following government’s recent interventions in the city of Harare, it has come to our attention that other local authorities face similar problems with regard to water and sewer provision within their localities.”

On Wednesday, two NGOs, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Water Alliance filed a court application challenging the shutting down of water in Harare.

The NGOs accused authorities of violating the Constitution by failing to supply residents with water, which a basic human right.