Zimbabwe President Mugabe Says Gov't to Prioritize Water Provision

President Mugabe said climate change had impacted negatively on agricultural production in the country, raising the need for the government to lead the way in providing clean water to the people.

Tatenda Gumbo & Obert Pepukai | Washington/Masvingo

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday said the unity government should put more resources towards increasing clean water sources in Matebeleland and Masvingo provinces, to address crippling water shortages caused by the drought.

Speaking in Masvingo to mark World Water Day, Mr. Mugabe said climate change had impacted negatively on agricultural production in the country, raising the need for the state to lead the way in providing clean water.

"People with water tend to have better level of nourishment, whereas the non availability of water causes drought, famines and malnutrition particularly in these regions," said Mr. Mugabe.

He said as climate change continues to be wreak havoc around the world, in Zimbabwe most parts of the country no longer received enough rainfall, affecting food security.

In other parts of Africa, such as Mozambique, he said, floods have become the order of the day. The theme for this year's proceedings was "Water and Food Security".

Speaking at the same occasion Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo said the government has secured $800 million from a Chinese bank to fund the Zambezi Water Project.

Meanwhile, environmentalists in the country say Zimbabwe lacks the technical expertise and institutional capacity to lessen and adapt to climate change.

Permanent secretary Florence Nhekairo of the environmental and natural resources management ministry says research has shown climate change has become the countries biggest challenge, threatening food security and economic growth.

Environmentalist and director Mutoso Dhliwayo or the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association says the country must come up with a comprehensive climate change policy to address such challenges.

"When we look at the impact and the implications of climate change you begin to understand that they are now affecting internationally recognized and protected human rights," said Dhliwayo

Zimbabwe is one of the countries facing serious water challenges resulting in continued poverty, environmental degradation and disease outbreaks – cholera in 2008 to 2009 and lately typhoid – all ancient diseases caused by lack of access to clean water.

For perspective VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo turned to projects coordinator Farai Mageza of the Youth Agrarian Society and medical consultant Dr. Elliot Chikati.

Chikati said disease outbreaks will continue to be the order of the day if Harare does not move with speed to address water challenges facing the nation.

Mageza said water is critical for all Zimbabweans in many walks of life, adding it is up to the government to improve good governance to turn things around.