BRITAIN has channelled over $8 million towards improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities in Zimbabwe since 2009, amid reports that over 4 000 children succumb to diarrhoeal diseases each year.
Report by Nqobani Ndlovu, Staff Reporter
This was said by Unicef representative to Zimbabwe Gianni Murzi in a speech read on his behalf by the United Nations body’s chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) Section, Kikwe Sebunya.
Murzi said the agency was concerned with reports that the majority of Zimbabweans still do not have access to clean water.
He said statistics showed that 30% rural households did not have access to clean water and improved toilet facilities resulting in 39% of them relieving themselves at unhygienic sites.
“Since 2009, DFID has channelled more than $8 million through Unicef to improve the supply of clean water and adequate sanitation facilities for all Zimbabweans,” he said.
“As Unicef, equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene remain a major concern as they are fundamental to the health and well-being of children.
“Diarrhoeal diseases, which result mainly from poor water and sanitation facilities, account for the unnecessary loss of life, especially among children under the age of five. Each year in Zimbabwe,4 000 children die from diarrhoea.”
Murzi added that lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities could result in a repeat of the 2008/09 cholera outbreak that left over 4 000 people dead, according to the World Health Organisation.
“I wish to highlight that poor sanitation has a negative bearing on the country’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) priorities, including poverty alleviation. Access to improved sanitation is integral to human dignity as well as the reduction of sanitation related diseases,” he said.
“In Zimbabwe we have seen how poor access to Wash services combined with a deteriorated health care system led to the the 2008/09 cholera crisis resulting in more than 98 000 cumulative cases and 4 300 deaths.”
The rural Wash project was launched recently to support an estimated 2,5 million people in 30 districts over five years.