Zimbabwe: Bulawayo to host donor conference on water provision

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo will next month host a conference of donors and representatives of foreign governments to raise money to finance water provision as the government continues dithering on long-term solutions to the city's unending water problems.

The city fathers hope the August 26 conference would be able to raise through direct donations and pledges Z$6 trillion and US$3.4 million required for various projects to improve water supply to the city of 1.5 million people that is nestled at the heart of the drought-prone Matabeleland region.

City spokesman Phathisa Nyathi told ZimOnline: "We have devised various projects to augment water supplies to Bulawayo ... but the projects have to be funded and that is the reason we have called a donors conference so as to source the cash to finance the projects."

Bulawayo, a heartland of opposition support, has over the years faced acute water shortages and in the last few months some suburbs had to go for weeks on end without water because the city council was unable to supply the precious liquid.

The government has promised, especially at every election time, to build a huge pipeline drawing water from the mighty Zambezi river up north on the border with Zambia down to Bulawayo several hundreds of kilometres away.

But the pipeline project that would also require substantial help from international donors has remained an election propaganda topic with little achieved on the ground.

Nyathi said: "The Matabeleland/Zambezi water project has been talked about for too long. It is not our project it is in the hands of other people, it is a government project and we have no control over that project and the realisation that we cannot rely on that government project has pushed us to act."

Bulawayo sources water from five dams near the city with a total capacity of 173 million cubic metres. The dams at the moment hold 112 million cubic metres, a quantity authorities say means the city shall experience more water shortages before the next rain season starts in about four months.

The city council wants to use funds raised from donors to among other things sink boreholes across the city, build water booster stations and to rehabilitate the Nyamandlovu aquifer that also supplies water to the city.