Minister of Science and Tech- nology Development Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, who is MP for Budiriro in Harare, said the facilities were designed to provide clean water to his constituency which has had perennial outbreaks of cholera since 2008.
A representative of the UK-based Meckow Limited visited the country a fortnight ago to study the challenges and explore project sites in Budiriro.
Meckow, which is involved in the production of water filters, also sources and supplies road construction equipment.
Statistics indicate that over 4 000 people succumbed to cholera in the country in 2008 with a significant number of them from Budiriro, a suburb dubbed “Baghdad” because of its militancy against President Robert Mugabe’s administration.
It is estimated to have 18 000 households, with each having an average of seven people. The suburb is among the most populous in Harare with run-down public facilities such as schools and clinics.
Campaign targets public places
Concerning the anti-cholera project, Dzinotyiweyi, said: “For a start we are hoping to have at least six points where we put the water purifying machines and these will be stationed at clinics, schools and other public places. The facilities use a membrane to purify the water.”
But the project is unlikely to materialise before the start of this rain season as studies are still being conducted.
The idea of installing water purification facilities came up after it was discovered that underground water in the area was contaminated.
In 2009, a team of experts from Bangladesh, who were working under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said water samples from taps, wells and even boreholes in the suburb were found to be heavily contaminated with coliform, a cholera causing bacteria.
Although Unicef came to the rescue of the residents by drilling 19 boreholes in the area, Dzinotyiweyi said there was still need to boil the water as underground water was contaminated.
When The Standard news crew visited the area last week long queues of people fetching water from boreholes wound their way through, potholes and moulds of flourishing garbage that almost blocked roads.
Rows of vendors selling wares from pieces of fresh meat, clothes, hardware items to vegetables lined up almost every street near shopping centres. Big green flies hovered around the dishes of meat — a recipe for a cholera outbreak, especially during this rainy season.
Raw sewage from burst sewer pipes have formed rivulets in most parts of the suburb meandering to a larger stream that feeds into Lake Chivero, Harare’s major source of drinking water.
Most of the shopping centres have no public toilets forcing residents, mostly beer drinkers, to use areas behind buildings to relieve themselves.
Residents denounce the timing of the project
Dzinotyiweyi however, has his own detractors. Political opponents in Budiriro do not appreciate what the MP is doing in the area.
They last week accused Dzinotyiweyi of frequenting the constituency because elections were around the corner. Elections are expected to be held next year or in 2013.
“We now see him here and there because of the impending elections,” said Aaron Mukwazhi of Budiriro 5 suburb.
“He can’t claim to have assisted us in any way because most of the boreholes were drilled by Unicef when people were dying from cholera.”
The situation in Budiriro is reflective of suburbs such as Mbare, Mabvuku, Tafara, Kuwadzana and Glen View. Dzinotyiweyi is however undeterred.