Zim records decline in water and sanitation access – UNICEF

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By Paidashe Mandivengerei

ZIMBABWE has recorded a decline in terms of access to water and sanitation among ordinary Zimbabweans over the past two decades, a UNICEF official has said.

The deterioration in the country’s access to water and sanitation has had negative effects among vulnerable communities throughout the country.

The social ills, it has been noted, have manifested in recurrent cholera and typhoid outbreaks as well as sexual harassment among affected communities.

Speaking at a United Nations (UN) panel discussion on Water and Sanitation in Harare on Thursday, Chief of the UNICEF Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) programme chief, Aidan Cronin said they were yet to achieve their aim to help improve water and sanitation provision.

This, said UN official, was according to statistics he collected with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“The WASH sector includes all of us; government, partners, support agencies and civil society communities and we have to do better because we are not achieving enough at present.

“From the latest WHO and UNICEF joint monetary programme results which track progress across countries globally, we see that it indicated a decrease in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2017.

“Access to safe water and basic water services in Zimbabwe has decreased from 72% to 64% and basic sanitation has decreased from 46% to 36%.”

Cronin added that the significant decrease in clean water and sanitation had disastrous effects on children who are being sexually abused while queuing at water points.

“The impact of this is a culture of our kids being stunted, increased sexual exploitation in water queues, cholera outbreaks, typhoid which is a recurring disaster,” he said.

Local groups such as Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and Community Water Alliance (CWA) are currently pushing for government to declare the water crisis a national disaster to pave way for a concerted approach to resolving a recurrent problem.