Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has bemoaned lack of prioritisation of the Zambezi Matabeleland water project.
Responding to questions by journalist after the launch of rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme through a 50 million grant by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Tsholotsho, the premier said there is need to speed up the project.
“The Zambezi Matabeleland water project is a huge project in terms of its structure and cope. For a long time we have not been able to implement it. That project has been on the book for hundred years and that explains the capacity that is required for government to undertake.”
However, the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management Samuel Sipepa said government has acquired money from China that will enable it to speed up the project.
“We have already been able to get allocation of the US$864 million from China. The Chinese are already here and they are working on all the modalities.”
Addressing guests, Dave Fish DFID Head of Mission, Zimbabwe said the initiative demonstrates the commitment of the British government to help the people of Zimbabwe.
“This latest programme again demonstrates the commitment of the British Government and the people of Britain to improving the daily lives of ordinary Zimbabweans”
Unicef representative to Zimbabwe Dr Peter Salam said thirty percent of rural house do not have access to safe water compared to less than 5 percent of the urban population.
He added: “...sixty-nine percent of rural households do not have improved toilet facilities and of these households thirty percent practice open defecation.”
Salam said diarrhoeal diseases, which result mainly from poor water and sanitation facilities, account for the unnecessary loss of life, especially among children under five.
Through the support of DFID, the rural WASH programme will be implemented in thirty districts in 5 provinces in Zimbabwe over five years.
Close to 2.5 million people will have year round access to safe water supplies and sanitation facilities.
Zimbabwe’s water supply and sanitation services have suffered a major collapse in both rural and urban areas due to years of under-investment.
Although some progress has been made in rehabilitating water infrastructure in urban areas, rural populations continue to bear the brunt of the poor water infrastructure in urban areas, rural populations continue to bear the brunt of poor water and sanitation in the country.
Around seventy percent of Zimbabwe’s population living in rural areas, improving access to water sanitation and hygiene is critical.