News / Africa

Rights Group Fears Waterborne Diseases Looming in Harare

Residences of Mabvuku fetch water from unproteacted sources in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 28, 2012.
Residences of Mabvuku fetch water from unproteacted sources in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 28, 2012.
Human Rights Watch is expressing fears that Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, will be hit by another outbreak of waterborne diseases unless authorities improve access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation.  A cholera epidemic in 2008 killed more than 4,000 people.

The New York-based rights group said a looming water and sanitation crisis in Zimbabwe’s capital places millions of residents at risk of waterborne diseases.

In a report entitled Troubled Water: Burst Pipes, Contaminated Wells, and Open Defecation in Zimbabwe’s Capital  Human Rights Watch said residents faced an increased threat from cholera, dysentery and similar diseases unless the water and sanitation situation was fixed.

Tiseke Kasambala is the Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 

“The water and sanitation in Harare is very, very serious.  As you might recall, in 2008, there was a serious cholera crisis that killed thousands of people.  And we are concerned, we recently heard of a typhoid outbreak in Harare.  We are concerned that these outbreaks of diseases are coming about as a result of poor water system throughout Harare, in particular in high density suburbs of the… city,” he said at the launch of the report Tuesday in Harare.

The 60-page report said many Zimbabweans still have little access to potable water and sanitation services, and resort to drinking water from shallow, unprotected wells that are contaminated with sewage, and to defecating outdoors.

According to the United Nations, nearly 70 percent of rural households in Zimbabwe do not have modern sanitation facilities, and about 40 percent of them practice open defecation.

Simbarashe Moyo from the Combined Harare Residents Association attended the launch of the Human Rights Watch report.  He said the issue of archaic sanitation facilities was not only in rural areas.

“From the report we are witnessing ruralization of urban area[s].  When you have unprotected wells and each and every household in Harare, Epworth, Chitungwiza and so forth.  Surely that is an indication that we are now in rural areas, [and that] you are no longer in town,” said Moyo.

Moyo affirmed the finding of Human Rights Watch that contaminated water from sewage was, at times, flowing into wells Harare residents depended on for drinking.

Zimbabwean officials refused to comment on the Human Rights Watch report, saying they have yet to see it.  Human Rights Watch said it invited officials to Tuesday's news conference but was told the officials couldn't make it.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More