BARELY two metres deep and an arm’s length in diameter but big enough to accommodate a small bucket for scooping water into a larger container are four holes that have become water sources for residents of Gwabalanda suburb in Bulawayo.
The area is a wetland making it easy to access natural water by just digging the ground with a shovel for more or less that two metres in depth.
Every morning the area, which is just a stone’s throw away from the famous Five-A-Side football ground in Gwabalanda suburb, is a hive of activity.
Women, children and the youth scramble to fetch water for domestic purposes before the water holes temporarily run dry for a few hours.
So bad is the water shedding situation in Bulawayo that any kind of water — contaminated, open source — is fetched by residents for use in their homes.
The Gwabalanda scenario is one of the hundreds of water scrambling cases that the residents of the City of Kings are going through on a daily basis.
So bad is the situation that some residents of suburbs such as Emakhandeni and Entumbane endured two weeks without tap water, a situation that was later explained by the council as having been caused by a burst pipe.
This bizarre situation is likely to cause diarrhoeal diseases such as dysentery and a cholera outbreak as some residents have resorted to drinking water directly from these wetlands.
In an interview residents in Gwabalanda suburb, bemoaned the water crisis and stated that they had resorted to the unclean water supply.
“We have been left with no option and cholera is the least of our worries because we need to run our households. There are people who drink this water without boiling it and no one can blame them because they have been left with no alternative.
“Yesterday when I came to fetch water, l found a lady drinking this water and she did not look concerned about her chances of contracting cholera as her worry was to quench her thirst,” said Sinikiwe Ndlovu.
Another resident Khulani Moyo added that they used the water from the wetlands to water their gardens and wash their clothes.
“We drink this water if we are left with no choice but we first boil it to ensure that we do not get sick, but however, the main purpose of this water is to wash, water our gardens and flush our toilets,” said Moyo.
A statement issued by Town Clerk Christopher Dube on Wednesday urged the residents to desist from using unprotected wells and to uphold hygienic practices.
“Residents are urged to avoid using unprotected wells and other water sources and to boil all water, whether from a borehole, water kiosk, water bowser, or water tap. Despite the dire situation, public health and hygiene practices must continue to be upheld.
“The city of Bulawayo is doing everything possible to mitigate the water crisis and we urge residents, the corporate world, councillors and policymakers to join hands in this effort. It is through collective action that we can ensure a sustainable and reliable water supply,” said Dube.
According to the statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care as of Monday, Zimbabwe had recorded a total of 173 suspected cholera cases, 21 confirmed cases, 157 recoveries and five deaths.