water1.jpgStakeholders in the water sector say there is need for the government to devote 10% of the country’s total budget to water infrastructural development as the latest outbreaks of water borne diseases have demonstrated that local authorities have no capacity.

One of the key lessons drawn from the cholera outbreak of the year 2008 was that the water and sanitation sector was loosely coordinated and poorly led, thus exposing local authorities’ shortcomings.

Stakeholders in the sector are lobbying government to allocate 10% of the total budget to water infrastructure development to ensure the rehabilitation of treatment plants as well as sewer systems.

Water expert, Mr Percy Toriro says if the current situation is allowed to continue, the country will have outbreaks of water borne diseases which will be difficult to contain as the local authorities are failing to provide clean water.

“Experience has shown that local authorities do not have the capacity to run water rehabilitation projects and as such, it becomes the sole responsibility of the government to ensure that water plants are rehabilitated on time. If the government fully takes part, we will not have problems being experienced at the moment,” said Mr Toriro.

Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association Executive Director, Mr Mthuso Dhliwayo says water is a basic human right and as such, if local authorities fail to rehabilitate water infrastructure, government has to chip in with capital to avert possible disasters.

“We have been lobbying for the issue of water to be part of the constitution so that government attaches great importance to water funding. We have had outbreaks of cholera and other water borne disease since 2008 and action must now be taken to invest in water infrastructure,” said Mr Dhliwayo.

Though cabinet approved a US$50 million water facility for the City of Harare, the funds are yet to be disbursed.

Recently, stakeholders called on Finance Minister, Mr Tendai Biti to assess the importance of water sector funding by government as this critical area cannot be managed by donors whose pull out can be catastrophic.

According to a recent report, government needs about US$1 billion for water and sanitation projects including the upgrading of water and sewer infrastructure in cities and towns.

It says Harare City Council needs US$23,5 million while Bulawayo needs over US$18 million.