BY FARAI MATIASHE
RESIDENTS in Chipinge town have heaved a sigh of relief after restoration of running water supplies following destruction of infrastructure, including tanks and pipes by Cyclone Idai-induced floods two weeks ago.
Government, stakeholders from the corporate world and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Plan International Zimbabwe, which contributed US$10 000 towards the rehabilitation of the water reticulation systems in the flood-hit town, worked tirelessly for the past week to restore water supplies to avert outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
Chipinge Town Council yesterday confirmed the development.
“Yes, water supplies have been restored. We finished fixing the pipes on Friday evening. The council began supplying residents with fresh and clean water by Saturday morning,” said council’s head of water works, John Muranda.
He said this was a temporary measure for residents to access water after going for close to two weeks without potable water.
“We are supplying most parts of the town, residential and industrial areas while the medium-density suburbs are yet to be supplied. In Gaza, wards 5 and 6 can now access tap water, but wards 1, 2 and some parts of ward 3 have no water,” Muranda said.
He added that some pipes were washed away by flood waters and they located some of them late last week in some rivers and fixed them.
“We have fixed some old and new pipes, temporarily. There are other new pipes which were donated by Plan [International Zimbabwe] which we are in the process of installing to supply the whole area and as a long-term measure to address the water crisis,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Plan International Zimbabwe country director Angela Muriithi said the restoration of water supplies will keep diarrheal diseases at bay.
“Rapid assessments done by both the government and international non-governmental organisations showed that the water situation in Chipinge was critical, thus, informing our response to act fast to rehabilitate the town’s water supply to prevent the outbreak of diarrheal diseases, particularly for children under five years old as it can be deadly,” Muriithi said.
“This intervention came as a relief to about 20 000 residents in Chipinge, especially women and young girls who have the burden of ensuring that households have adequate water supplies for domestic use. Women and girls also need access to clean water for proper menstrual hygiene management,” she said.
Chipinge district administrator William Mashava told NewsDay that the restoration of water supplies would play a vital role in preventing communicable disease outbreaks.
“This is a positive development; it is quite a relief considering there were fears of a cholera outbreak,” he said.
Government and NGOs had warned that there might be an outbreak of malaria and waterborne diseases such as cholera in Chipinge and Chimanimani due to poor sanitation and reliance on unprotected water sources.
Council has been supplying purified water using tanks and also gave survivors toiletries to avert the outbreak.
In a related matter, Mozambican authorities have confirmed 271 cases of cholera in Beira alone, which was worst affected by Cyclone Idai.
However, in Zimbabwe, Health ministry deputy director for epidemiology disease control Isaac Phiri, said no cholera or malaria cases had been recorded in Chipinge and Chimanimani.
“There are no cases that have been recorded so far. There is no malaria and cholera outbreak in the affected areas. Sporadic cases of malaria can be reported somewhere else around the country, but we cannot say we are in an outbreak,” he said.
Phiri said with the current situation there was a possibility of an outbreak of diseases and the ministry was on high alert.
“We are worried by the conditions that are there. We need to be alert. Our surveillance team is on the ground assessing and implementing prevention measures,” he said.