Germany and Australia yesterday urged Zimbabwean politicians and local authorities to take the water shortage affecting most urban areas seriously.
Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus and his German counterpart Hans Gnodtke told a joint Press conference in Harare that although their countries were ready to offer financial support, political will was needed to address the problems.
The two countries last week jointly injected $36 million towards rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities for six local authorities over a three-year period.
The programme will benefit 1,6 million people in Bulawayo, Kadoma, Norton, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Kariba.
“I know from my interactions with the (Harare) mayor (Muchadeyi Masunda) that there are interventions in place,” Neuhaus said.
“We expect this to be led by politicians and council. We can assist, but they have to show the will and energy to address their own problems.
“There is a lot to be done in the water sector in Zimbabwe. We have followed reports of cholera and typhoid.
“Harare has resources and we need to bear in mind that we are intervening where the issues of poverty are extreme. Harare should be better off than all the cities.”
Neuhaus bemoaned the neglect of infrastructure in the last three decades.
“There has to be considerable changes because in some places, there was neglect for 30 or so years so systems have to be changed.
“It’s about making it sustainable, people are being assisted to get their water and pay for it,” he said.
Gnodtke said his country would continue to assist poor people in Zimbabwe to access clean water.
“As far as Germany is concerned, as far back as 2002, we were forced to suspend government-to-government assistance but we have never reneged on our responsibility in the form of emergency aid,” he said.
“We have continued to support the poor population and we have engaged city councils to provide fresh water.”
Harare and Chitungwiza are battling a fresh typhoid outbreak that has left thousands of people infected.