Our water is a toxic stew
Why is Zimbabwe still dealing with the “medieval” disease of cholera? asked Faith Zaba. The current outbreak has killed 49 people and sickened thousands over the past month—and that’s in the capital, Harare, which ought to boast the country’s most modern infrastructure. The problem is Lake Chivero, the principal water supply for some 2.6 million people. This reservoir was built in 1952 to supply the city, but it is located downstream, and thanks to bursting pipes and poor infrastructure, Harare residents regularly discharge raw sewage into two of its tributaries. The lake is now “basically a giant sewage pond,” polluted with metals, pesticides, and human waste. Treating this contamination is incredibly expensive. Harare needs new sources of water, “which means new dams.” But getting them built will require us to overcome rampant corruption: The Kunzwi Dam project, conceived in 1996, is still not complete more than 20 years later. And new reservoirs won’t help if we keep fouling them, so we’ll have to “rid the capital of squatter settlements” and stop the dumping of industrial waste. We need a “comprehensive solution.” In the 21st century, lack of access to potable water is “a major embarrassment” for our country.