‘City doing its best to keep typhoid at bay’
Harare has been battling typhoid since last month and residents remain under threat of contracting the water-borne disease which has already claimed two lives while 25 cases have been confirmed. Poor water and sanitation, waste management and personal hyg
IR: Engineer, you have been at the helm of Harare Water for the past four months. As you are aware water is one of the major drivers of typhoid, which is currently affecting the capital especially the high-density suburb of Mbare, what actions are you taking to ensure there is water supply in these areas? HC: Following reports of the
typhoid outbreaks, the Harare Water Department, has intensified its surveillance and operations in and around the flash points. Water and sewerage management teams are deployed in all areas to improve response time. Normal sewer blockages are now being attended to within 12 hours of report. The city continues to urge residents to avoid dumping material in sewers as these increase blockages. Residents should not vandalise the sewerage infrastructure as this leads to high volumes of water which then leads to increased sewer overflows. Critical interventions also include chlorination of boreholes. All public boreholes are being chlorinated regularly to eliminate any possible contamination. Water supplies to the highdensity areas which are prone to disease outbreaks have been increased. Harare Water has also increased the chlorine dosage levels to counter any possible recontamination of water at the point of use. Boreholes are being fitted with online chlorinators to ensure that all the water obtained has residual chlorine. We have also deployed reaction teams in the affected areas to ensure that all sewer blockages are quickly attended to, and that chemicals are applied at affected places to eliminate odours and flies. Harare Water values the reports that we get from residents so that service interruptions are urgently resolved. IR: It seems the city is reacting to a crisis rather than being proactive. What other interventions have you been carrying out to avoid the outbreak of waterborne diseases and to ensure the capital has sufficient water supplies? HC: We have been working hard. In September we introduced a tight water rationing programme to ensure all areas would access water. The programme, however, had priority on the high-density areas which were receiving minimum five days water supply out of seven. We also deployed bowsers to some of the areas, which were most affected such as Msasa Park, Hatfield, Mabvuku, Tafara and Hatcliffe. This was meant to ensure that Harare residents would continue to access clean water for basic household use. We also embarked on an intensive leakage reduction programme to reduce water leakages so as to improve supplies. This was done together with optimisation of water production at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works where there was sufficient raw water for treatment. Intensive reduction of leakages resulted in improved water supply coverage and by mid-November, the northern and eastern suburbs of Harare (Greendale, Glen Lorne, Kambanji, Mandara, Chisipite, Borrowdale and Mt Pleasant) which were virtually dry started accessing water at minimum three days a week. Besides the repair of burst pipes, pipe replacement was also carried out throughout the city. From October, about 5km of pipework has been replaced and in some instances upgraded to increase capacity. Areas that have benefited are Avondale, Rugare, Southerton, Lochinvar and Mbare. Pipe replacement results in improved security of water supply as the rate of pipe bursts reduces. IR: We understand Harare has been failing to pay for water chemicals to ensure that there will not be shortages? HC: We have been engaging our principal suppliers of water treatment chemicals to improve stock levels. This involved making substantial payments to suppliers. This intervention has seen marked improvements for the critical chemicals where stocks have been improved from one day to a week of supplies. Efforts are still being made to ensure safe stock levels depending on the load times of the deliveries of the various chemicals. IR: Poor sewerage systems and blocked sewers can also contribute to water-borne diseases, what is the city doing on this front? HC: We are working on our sewerage infrastructure and we have already replaced key sections of the network where sewage was polluting the environment. Work is in progress to upgrade and replace sewers in Mufakose, Kambuzuma, Dzivarasekwa and Mbare. Completed works in Kambuzuma and Dzivarasekwa have improved services in the respective areas. IR: The country had poor rainfall in the previous two seasons, what is the current situation after the heavy rains? HC: Last season’s low rainfall saw the raw water sources for Harare dwindling until the city had to nearly stop water production from Prince Edward Waterworks which has a capacity to produce 60 million litres per day half of which supplies Chitungwiza. This left Harare with Morton Jaffray as the only treatment plant available. Harare was during the same time carrying out the rehabilitation works at Morton Jaffray water plant. During the treatment works rehabilitation, some treatment and pumping units were decommissioned to allow installation of new plant and equipment. This saw the capacity of the plant reduced to 400 million litres per day instead of the designed 600 million litres per day. The onset of the rains has further improved water supply coverage and access as the dams that supply Prince Edward Water Treatment Plant. IR: Speaking of the Morton Jaffray Treatment Works, what is going on there. We understand the project was supposed to be completed last year. HC: The city can report that the major works at Morton Jaffray are substantially complete and the plant is expected to be fully operational during the first half of 2017. There were a few weekends where the city had to shut down the plant to allow contractors to install new equipment and to enable the city to deal with leakages on the main transmission mains. These were advertised and the public advised. During critical shutdown periods, bowsers were deployed to critical areas such as clinics. With rehabilitation works nearing completion at Morton Jaffray, water supply into the city is expected to increase during the course of the year. IR: Engineer, I understand Harare is also a beneficiary of the second phase of the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund Water and Sanitation project? HC: Yes, we are, projects under Zimfund have commenced. This facility will cover rehabilitation of the distribution pump stations in Harare to enable the city to pump consistently and efficiently to all areas around the city. The project will also see the replacement of 50km of distribution pipework and this will result in increased water supply coverage. The ZimFund project also include the rehabilitation of the sewerage network and this will further reduce sewer blockages and sewage spillages. Sewage treatment works rehabilitation will continue under this facility with sewage ponds in Marlborough being rehabilitated. The Marlborough area has been particularly affected especially during the rains and work on the ponds system is scheduled to start by the end of January. All the projects being carried out are meant to increase volume of water getting to the people as well as securing the quality of the water. The key focus is on public and environmental health. IR: Thank you for your time Eng Chisango.
HC: My pleasure.
ENGINEER CHISANGO . . . “Harare Water values the reports that we get from residents so that service interruptions are urgently resolved”