chombo ignatius 01.09.10.jpgGovernment has directed local authorities to prioritise water treatment in their 2012 budgets in order to avoid crises when UNICEF eventually pulls out of the water treatment partnership.

While the country is already grappling with water problems, the situation is set to worsen next year as UNICEF will be pulling out from a critical multi-million dollar water treatment partnership with local authorities.

Government has however said local authorities have no reason to fail to fund water treatment programmes as their budgets should prioritise this critical service.

Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo said the local authorities were advised early on the eventual pull out but measures should be put in place now for a smooth transition.

While most local authorities have confirmed that they will not be able to cope without outside help, central government insists they should stop depending on donors for such critical areas and should invest heavily in this sector rather than looting resources for self enrichment.

The pull out by UNICEF from the critical multi-million dollar water treatment partnership will leave more than four million people – one in every three Zimbabweans – at risk of contracting serious water-borne diseases such as cholera if no measures are put in place urgently to mitigate the withdrawal.