Connecting growing urban settlements in Zimbabwe to water supply

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GURUVE,—In the town of Guruve, 150 kms north of Harare, lies a residential area called Tsatse, which has never had a working water supply. Nowadays around 300 households live there without access to clean tap water.

Understandably, therefore, unhappiness clouds Tafadzwa Matare’s voice as he narrates his daily ordeal of getting water for his family. “Ever since I bought this stand [plot of land in urban area] in 2012, we have never had running water,” he says. “We are constantly forced to look for alternatives. Sometimes I get water from my work place, and often my wife joins other women queuing at the boreholes.”

The lack of running water in this area has brought about interesting change in domestic life, making water collection not only a “woman’s job” but a shared household chore.

To address the plight of residents in Guruve, the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF)  included the Zimbabwe National Water Project (ZNWP) in its planning. The project seeks to improve access to water and efficiency its services, and to strengthen planning and regulation in the water and sanitation sector.

This US$20 million project identified seven centers of urban growth in Zimbabwe to benefit from its intervention. These centers—Guruve, Lupane, Madziwa, Zimunya, Gutu, Nembudziya, and Mataga—are drawn from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’scatchment areas.

The most important consideration in their choice of where to intervene was helping people in poorer areas, including new communities that have come up, or schools, clinics, and other public institutions that need a supply of good, safe water.

In Guruve, the project is focusing on the rehabilitation of existing water infrastructure, the rehabilitation of a water treatment plant, and the construction of a reservoir. It will also work on improving monitoring water quality, extending the water network, and connecting 2,548 residential homes.

The proposed water network will cover some of the housing developments in Guruve, including Tsatse and other high- and medium-density urban plots in Guruve, which were developed without water and sewer networks.

“We are privileged to be part of the ZNWP as an implementing agency, and even more excited to be in the position to provide drinkable water to the people of Guruve, who have endured long periods of having no water in their taps,” says Fortune Musoni, the ZNWP Project Engineer.

Older residential areas experiencing erratic water supplies from dilapidated pipes, water stations not working at full capacity, or high water losses due to leakage, will also benefit from the project.

The project will improve the supply of water to residents, and may help boost business in the area, too. Similar work is currently taking place in other towns elsewhere in Zimbabwe, such as Zimunya and Lupane.

Apart from making improvements to water and sanitation, ZINWA will receive Technical Assistance from the World Bank for the development of the National Water Resources Master Plan, the establishment of a Water Services Regulator, and support to local authorities for institutional strengthening and training.