Epworth water crisis: A health time bomb

EPWORTH residents have appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to intervene in the water and sanitation crisis that has severely hit the high density suburb of Harare.

This comes as Epworth residents are relying on wetlands where shallow wells are dug and residents access water from unprotected water sources.

On the other hand, opportunistic individuals are charging ZWL$15 for a 20-litre bucket of water.

The President should declare the Epworth water crisis a disaster so that we get partners to assist us since both the Local Council and Central Government have failed to provide adequate and lasting solutions to the people,” Epworth Residents Development Association (ERDA) co-ordinator, Peter Nyapetwa, told Zim Morning Post.

The residents body said measures to combat COVID-19 should include urgently providing continuous and affordable access to sufficient safe water to people across the country. 

He further said Zimbabwe government needs to ensure an uninterrupted supply of safe water or face magnified health risks as people seek alternative, unsafe water sources.

“In Epworth, washing your hands regularly has become a luxury; same with having a full body bath. Government must start taking human life seriously,” Nyapetwa added.

In Epworth, 90 percent of people rely on water from boreholes and unprotected wells since there are no water pipe installations in many parts of the suburb.

With a population of more than 300 000 peoples, the Epworth Local Board has so far only installed 20 boreholes to service the entire area.

“The council has not done enough to improve water supply in Epworth. When they issue residential stands, they don’t even ensure provision for water and sewerage pipes,” Nyapetwa said.

Some people have started taking advantage of the water crisis by selling water to desperate residents.

A non-profit organisation, LeaveNoYouth Behind, said the water crisis in Epworth required political will.

“There is need for political will to address the water crisis situation. Those who cannot afford to buy water at ZWL15 per 20-litre bucket are now resorting to unprotected sources such as Epworth Quarry Dam,” the organisation wrote on their Twitter handle page.

Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution provides in section 77(a) that every person has the right to safe, clean, and potable water.