Zimbabweans are still living in danger of another cholera outbreak as Finance minister Tendai Biti made it clear yesterday that government had no money to address water crises bedevilling local authorities around the country.
In his budget presentation yesterday, Biti said although local authorities had wanted close to $1,5 billion to end their woes, government would only be able to provide $32 million.
“Out of the total requirements amounting to $1,5 billion by local authorities, I am providing $32 million in order to address water and sewer challenges for local authorities. This includes a provision of $2 million for installation of dedicated power lines to water pumping stations,” Biti said.
He said the provisions, however, would fall short of required resources, hence local authorities should meet the balance from their own resources.
The minister said 67% of the population in Zimbabwe drew water from unprotected sources while only 46% have access to running toilet facilities. He said this posed a great danger to residents’ health.
“It is, therefore, important that local authorities institute measures to strengthen their revenue-generation capacity, including promoting public-private partnerships in the provision of various services such as billing, collection, pump maintenance and repair,” Biti said.
He said the old machinery used in most urban areas was impounded by local authorities who lack adequate revenue inflows as a result of low activity following the closure of many companies, with those surviving operating on low economic activity.
“Water supply and sanitation problems are also compounded by the tremendous rural-urban migration as economic hardships, coupled with droughts, forced a number of inhabitants of surrounding communities to flock to towns in search of survival opportunities,” the Finance minister said.
“The 2011 Budget will particularly focus on the completion of ongoing water supply programmes in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru under phase two of the targeted approach. Similarly, the targeted approach will be applied to other towns of Chitungwiza, Kadoma, Chegutu and Ruwa towards the rehabilitation of water and waste water treatment networks,” he said.