EDITORIAL COMMENT: Gwanda, Beitbridge water solution needed now

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INFORMATION on the United Nations website show that, “On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.

The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”

The article on “Water as a Human Right? IUCN, UNDP, 2004”, goes on to say “The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise.

“The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health.

Measures of drinking-water safety are usually defined by national and/or local standards for drinking-water quality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality provide a basis for the development of national standards that, if properly implemented, will ensure the safety of drinking-water.”

We revisit some of the globally prescribed parameters in as far as water provision is concerned at a time when residents of the biggest two towns in Matabeleland South are grabbling with a serious water crisis as a result of misunderstandings over payment issues with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

Gwanda has gone for close to two months without the precious liquid, with some areas getting it at far and wide intervals, after Zinwa discontinued normal suppliers over a ballooning debt running into millions of dollars.

The situation has also not been rosy in Beitbridge, as the town council is also engaged in boardrooms with Zinwa to iron out ways of paying their debt so that people are not denied of the precious liquid, which carries the well-meaning cliché “water is life”.

However, we acknowledge the fact that Zinwa are providing a service to the people of Gwanda and Beitbridge and that service must and has to be paid for, just like any other service.

We appreciate that residents in the two towns or in any part of the country should not seek to abuse the fact that water provision is a human right by not meeting their own side of the bargain through paying for the commodity, but after all has been said and done, whoever is engaged in boardrooms to solve the impasse should move with speed, knowing fully well that lack of water or safe water is a recipe for disaster, as it might lead to an outbreak of diseases such as cholera, which can spread to other places at a fast pace, leading to a national problem.

We say so bearing in mind the fact that the two towns are situated along the country’s busy roads and point of entry leading to South Africa, which makes provision of water at these places critical.

Our sister paper, Chronicle reported during the week that stakeholders in Gwanda had resolved to suspend operations in schools, colleges, businesses and Government departments until the water situation is resolved, something that will have an adverse effect on service delivery, bearing in mind that Gwanda is the provincial capital of Matabeleland South.

We acknowledge that Government is seized with the matter having already set up a seven-member commission of inquiry on the capacity of Gwanda and Beitbridge town councils to take over water and waste management from Zinwa, but the commission has to expedite its operations to solve the matter without further delay.

In the same vein, we urge the local leadership to engage Zinwa, and not politicise the mattter, as they have been accused of doing.

Politicising the matter and raising emotions will not benefit residents at all.

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