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50% Of Boreholes In Harare’s Western and Northern Districts Contaminated With Human Waste

50% Of Boreholes In Harare’s Western and Northern Districts Contaminated With Human Waste

Half of Harare’s boreholes in the western and northern districts are found to be contaminated with human waste, posing potential risks to drinking water safety. These boreholes, relied upon due to irregular municipal water supply, revealed traces of sewer and E. coli bacteria in water samples, contributing to water-borne diseases like typhoid and cholera. This discovery coincides with a cholera outbreak linked to water shortages in Harare.

The City Council, currently providing only 300 megaliters of potable water daily against a demand of 1,200 megaliters, forces residents to seek alternative sources, including these compromised boreholes. The presence of E. coli indicates fecal contamination, raising serious health concerns.

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Dr. Michael Vere, the City of Harare’s epidemiology and disease control officer, confirmed that 50 percent of boreholes in the western and northern districts are contaminated with sewer and human waste. Despite the contamination, decommissioning is hindered by water shortages, leading authorities to install inline chlorinators on some boreholes to ensure water safety.

Harare’s water challenges are exacerbated by aging potable water pipes from the 1960s, requiring replacement. The City is implementing inline chlorination to address water quality. Health experts attribute the rise in water-borne diseases to the council’s failure to maintain infrastructure.

As of January 9, Harare recorded 6,143 suspected cholera cases and 48 deaths. Zimbabwe has seen a total of 16,568 suspected cholera cases since last year. The Ministry of Health and Child Care awaits water quality results. Dr. Johannes Marisa emphasizes the need for a comprehensive overhaul of sewer pipes for a long-term solution to public health threats.

Mr. Precious Shumba from the Harare Residents Trust advocates for the urgent replacement of dilapidated underground water and sewer pipes in affected areas. Addressing leakages and illegal connections is crucial to improving water distribution and preventing pollution. The observations align with the City Health Department’s findings, reflecting the pressing situation on the ground.

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