Back to Index
of water at state hospitals unacceptable
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 10, 2013
for Human Rights (ZLHR) is deeply concerned by media reports
in The Standard of 8 September 2013 that two major hospitals in
Harare, Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals, lack a continuous supply
of water. Access to potable water is not only a fundamental right,
but lack thereof can have a negative effect on other rights. The
chronic water shortage at these two hospitals is totally unacceptable.
It undermines the progressive realization of the right to water
and negatively impacts on patients’ ability to progressively
realize the best attainable state of physical and mental health.
This is not
the first time that ZLHR has raised this critical concern [see press
statement of 3 August 2012 entitled: ‘Water woes continue
as government remains indifferent’]. More than a year has
passed, yet nothing has been done.
Whilst the country
continues to be plagued with perennial water shortages, which is
particularly striking in the urban areas, this situation persists
with no commitment from the authorities to fully address this, and
no accountability for its failure in this regard.
The right to
access clean water continues to be taken for granted and be treated
as a privilege. For more than 7 years now, Zimbabweans have continued
to tolerate lack of access to basic services such as potable water
by authorities. Such dereliction of duty is not only irresponsible
but has caused wanton loss of life in previous years due to the
spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Zimbabwean
urbanites must not continue to be to be taken for granted with perennial
water shortages, water that does not come for free in Zimbabwe.
The executive arm of government, and the new legislature must take
this challenge head-on and not continue to leave this unaddressed
as if it is business as usual.
that lack of fulfillment of this basic right will have a boomerang
effect on not only other social rights, but also economic, cultural,
civil and political rights. Human rights remain interrelated and
The state, through
its institutions, is reminded that Zimbabwe is state party, voluntarily
to human rights instruments obliging it to respect social rights,
and availability of clean water is indispensable to guaranteeing
a dignified human life. As a natural resource, water is fundamental
to life and health. ZLHR also emphasizes that water is essential
for survival as it constitutes an important element of the human
diet and there is no adequate substitute for it. Lack of sufficient
and safe water is disastrous for humankind. The government is reminded
that access to clean water must be seen as a fundamental human right.
In any event,
the new Constitution as published on 22 May 2013, protects the right
to water in section 77, which provides that every person has a right
to safe, clean and potable water. Zimbabwe is also a signatory to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
and the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. These instruments
oblige the government to ensure that citizens have the highest attainable
state of physical health. Without water, one cannot achieve this
status. The United Nations has also through UN Resolution 64/292,
now recognized that water is a human right and acknowledged that
clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation
of all human rights.
the following as a matter of urgency:
- Urgent measures
be taken by the state to provide alternative and uninterrupted
sources of water to the two hospitals until such time as a constant
and reliable supply has been restored;
- The state,
through its Ministry of Water Resources and Development, local
councils, and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), must
take effective measures to ensure adequate and regular provision
of clean water, and must publicly disclose such measures to the
must be made into culpability for this disruption of service and
failure to deliver, and those responsible must be made accountable
must, after comprehensive consultation with all stakeholders,
adopt and implement a sustainable strategy that includes a clear
plan for provision of clean water to all communities, and regular
monitoring and evaluation of progress and challenges.
at Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals must take responsibility
and prioritise the welfare of patients working closely with central
government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that there
is adequate and continuous clean water supply at the two hospitals.
Visit the ZLHR
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.