Social distancing remains challenge as residents scramble for borehole water

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By Makanaka Masenyama

THE practice of social distancing as a precautionary requirement to avoid the spread of coronavirus has turned out to be a great challenge for some residents in Harare who find themselves risking lives while scrambling for scarce water around the city’s communal boreholes.

One such case is that of Hatcliffe Extension, a suburb that has not received tap water in the past three years.

The youths and the old alike have been spending long hours daily crowded around boreholes during the government declared national lockdown over 21 continuous days.

One Janet Muchineripi who spoke to said it was frustrating for many people in her situation to be looking around for borehole water when there were city authorities whose job was to provide the necessity to them.

“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we fear the worst. Those who used to help us with water from their private boreholes nolonger want to see us in their yards for fear of contracting the disease,” said Muchineripi.

“More than fifty people can come at the same time to fetch water from communal boreholes, which is a threat to people’s health in times of coronavirus.:”

She added, “At the boreholes, people are allowed to fetch water once a day.

“We are limited to a few buckets per family, so it is very difficult. We have never known of council water in our area.

“Those who have money buy water and fill up their tanks.

“Some of us cannot afford to buy water. May the city council at least make arrangements that we get water once a week.”

The chronic shortage of affordable water has always been a big threat to individual and public health in Zimbabwe, placing millions of residents at the risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

Residents have often resorted to drinking water from shallow, unprotected wells that are contaminated.

Harare City Council director for water Phakamile Moyo said Hatcliffe Extension residents have not yet finished putting water pipes in their area, a key requirements for households to begin receiving the necessity.

“In Hatcliffe Extension,  they have not yet finished installing water pipes. Once they do that, they then have to apply for water connection from the Harare City Council to get tap water,” said Moyo.