Disabled cannot compete in battle for water

Erratic water supplies in Epworth have come with a heavy cost for people living with disabilities, who have to pay extra costs to get the precious liquid.

In an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a Harare Metropolitan Water Conference organised by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) in the capital last week, the Programmes Coordinator for the Epworth Residents Development Association (ERDA), Henry Kane who himself is living with disability said disabled people were finding it hard to compete with able-bodied people at boreholes, where there is often jostling for water.

As a result they are forced to pay people to fetch water for them. “The issue of unavailability of water is a very serious issue that has negatively affected the lives of people with disabilities. They have to go to the few boreholes where there is a lot of commotion as people are desperate for water,” he said. “The disabled pay $0.20 per 20 litre bucket of water delivered to them. Most people cannot afford this. Some are tenants who already have the burden of finding money to pay their monthly rentals and to pay someone to fetch water for them is really an unnecessary burden.”

Kane challenged the government to treat the issue of water availability seriously as erratic supplies had adversely affected peoples’ lives. “Besides exposing people to diseases, the government should understand that there are people with disabilities who are among the worst affected. A lasting solution to the water crisis would lessen the burden of people with disabilities,” said Kane.

Meanwhile, the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HamRef) says it will mobilise residents to resist the introduction of pre-paid water meters as this would violate people’s rights to access to water and add more suffering to poverty-stricken households.