By Thandiwe Garusa
THE Harare City Council’s prayers for fresh water sources construction seems to have been answered by central government after Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube proposed that $259 million be set aside for Kunzvi Dam.
Presenting his 2020 national budget Thursday, Ncube said government views the provision of clean water and sanitation services as vital to citizen’ survivals.
“The strategic focus for the WASH sector during 2020 budget is to restore basic water and sanitation services through maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrade of infrastructure, harnessing of water through construction of dams, weirs, borehole rehabilitation and drilling, and water and sanitation in our urban areas.
“Accordingly the following projects have been prioritized in the 2020 budget
Gwayi Shangani Dam $400 million, Causeway Dam $128 million, Chivhu Dam $192 million, Kunzvi Dam $259 million, Semwa Dam $216 million, other dams $205 million, water supply schemes $113 million, local authorities water and sanitation $311 million,” said Ncube
For the past 10 years Harare has struggled with intermittent outbreaks of waterborne diseases including the devastating cholera outbreak in 2008 that left 4000 people dead.
Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba welcomed the development.
“We are appreciative of such efforts. We are concerned it took long since 1990 to do but grateful its finally being done. We must as leaders feel for our people who are spending a lot of time in queues searching for water.
“We must feel it and act,” said Gomba. “This is action and we now ask government to allocate some resources for Muda Dam, which will give relief to Chitungwiza and Harare South. This is our call.”
Hardlife Mudzingwa Programs Manager of Community Water Alliance (CWA) said Ncube’s proposal was a drop in the ocean and will not make a difference.
“The starting point is to convert that $259m to real value terms of the United States dollars which is around US$12, 1 million and the construction and completion of Kunzvi requires more than US$500 million, so what it means is there is no meaningful commitment when it comes to water service delivery by the government and we will not see any improvement in the water situation with this budget,” said
He added: “You also need to factor inflation for the next year and we are living in a hype- inflationary environment. In 2020, this allocation would have been eroded to less that half.”
Combined Harare Residents Association director Loreen Mupasiri echoed Mudzingwa’s sentiments.
“The commitment is quite minimal. We urge government to do more because the water crisis is an emergency as lives are being lost due to water shortages.
“To us, the seriousness of government should be demonstrated through its level of commitment to this cause and $259million, although it is a step taken, still leaves us with more questions on the possibilities of this project ever taking off,” said Mupasiri.