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Norah women protest after disabled child falls into raw sewage
Tererai Karimakwenda, SW Radio Africa
August 22, 2007
failure by Harare city officials to repair the collapsed sewerage
systems has created serious health hazards on the streets and residents
in the high-density suburbs are beginning to organize local district
protests. Precious Shumba from the Combined
Harare Residents Association reported that on Tuesday about
30 angry women in Glen Norah descended on the district offices after
a disabled child fell into raw sewage and suffered serious injuries.
The child was rushed to a local clinic that turned out to be closed.
There was no staff because city health personnel are still on strike.
Shumba said the women
challenged officials to take action to repair the sewage, shouting
that they will no longer sit and watch. In a similar action residents
of Dzivarasekwa gathered at their district offices on Wednesday
to protest the raw sewage flowing at their railway station and through
the streets. Shumba said they gave the officials a 14-day ultimatum
to take care of the problem or be prepared to deal with buckets
of raw sewage that would be dumped at their offices. 13 residents
in the area reported illnesses related to exposure to dirty water
and other unhygienic conditions in Dzivarasekwa.
Shumba explained that
residents are beginning to take direct action in line with resolutions
made at several CHRA sponsored public forums. He added: "This
is commendable when you are living in a police state such as we
are, where people are being beaten." Residents have complained
that the officials do not respond to any queries and refuse to meet
with them to discuss crucial issues. He described them as part of
"an insensitive regime".
Service delivery in the
capital has deteriorated tremendously since the minister of local
government removed the elected mayor and council years ago and installed
an illegal commission. Corruption, mismanagement and the lack of
resources have destroyed many government run institutions.
A statement from CHRA
said an unmitigated health disaster is threatening the capital unless
the authorities move fast to intervene. It said every high-density
suburb the group visited in the last two weeks has "sewerage
flowing in almost every two streets, creating fertile environments
for the spread of water borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea
and dysentery, which have now become part of every day talk among
residents." According to Shumba, there is already a health
disaster in the capital. Many people are complaining of stomach
pains and diarrhea.
CHRA said the alarming
situation that now exists is due to serious water shortages and
a sewerage reticulation system that has all but collapsed. The group
has alerted the City of Harare, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA), the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the Ministry
of Local Government and the Ministry of Water Resources and Infrastructural
Development. But nothing has been done.
CHRA conducted interviews
with residents who said their children are falling sick due to unhygienic
living conditions. Raw sewage continues to flow through the streets
where children play and families go for days without being able
to wash their plates. Drinking water is also at risk because it
is being stored in containers for long periods of time. CHRA is
also deeply concerned because the clinics have no drugs and staff
are on strike.
Residents in parts of
Budiriro have gone for three weeks without water. CHRA said "ZINWA
has done absolutely nothing except to send in exorbitant water bills."
The CHRA statement said:
"Other suburbs seriously affected include Glen View, Glen Norah,
Highfield, Mbare Flats, Mabvuku, Tafara, Warren Park, Kuwadzana
Phase 3 just opposite Dzivarasekwa High One and the rest of Kuwadzana.
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