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Zimbabwe Civic Groups Protest Bad Water

Residences of Mabvuku fetch water from unprotected sources in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 28, 2012.
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Dozens of civic organizations in Zimbabwe have petitioned the government to ensure all citizens in the southern African country have access to clean water.

The protest comes amid continued outbreaks of waterborne diseases - most recently last month’s outbreak of typhoid in the suburb of Chitungwiza which is about 30 kilometers southeast of Zimbabwe's capital city Harare.

After presenting a petition that has about 2,000 signatures, the civic organizations said they wanted the coalition government to ensure that all Zimbabweans have access to clean water.

Abel Chikomo, who spoke on behalf of the groups, said the government in Harare risked legal action if it did not stop the outbreaks of waterborne diseases in Zimbabwe. Chikomo said the matter is urgent.

“We cannot wait a day longer. Waiting a day longer might mean losing 1,000 lives. Human rights activists act and we can act now,” said Chikomo.

It remains to be seen if the protest can lead to better water quality in this cash-strapped nation.

Over the past decade, pipes and water treatment facilities have been allowed to deteriorate as the country struggled through a severe economic crisis, amid constant political turmoil.

A decline in the health care system left many people at the mercy of waterborne diseases. In the worst outbreak, a cholera epidemic claimed nearly 5,000 lives in 2008.
The economy has improved since then, but finding clean water to drink and bathe with remains a challenge for many Zimbabweans.