By Takaedza Tafirei | Nkabazwe Community Radio Station | +263 775 879 947
The water crisis in Gweru is deepening of late and is being linked with the escalating effect of climate change, a development that is calling climate justice actors into action.
Projections in Zimbabwe show that climate change will cause average temperatures to rise by three Degrees Celsius and consequently the rainfall would decline by 5 to 18 percent.
Sadly, the Gweru local authority has not yet taken comprehensive measures to discuss the climate change subject amidst the ever-decreasing water levels at one of the city’s supply dams Gwenhoro dam.
This water situation in the city has seen residents in highland areas of Gweru such as Ascot going for months without running tap water and the locals are raising serious concerns.
“It is almost three to four months now and l have not seen water running through our tap. We now rely on borehole water. The problem is we now spend more time at the borehole lines than doing other productive things,” said a resident from Ascot, Bianca Gweru.
The Gweru City Council authorities have openly shared with the residents that the water levels at Gwenhoro dam have sharply decreased.
The mayor of the city, councilor Josiah Makombe speaking during a meeting with the residents which was organized by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development said there were several factors that have resulted in the city’s water woes and chief among them is the decreasing water levels at Gwenhoro dam.
Climate experts in the city also warn that ignoring the subject of climate on the part of city fathers change is suicidal because it is the major determinant of rainfall variables.
Residents are continuously losing hope in the capabilities of our leaders, worse off their failing response mechanisms such as the water rationing system, a resident Simbarashe Chipare said.
“The Gweru City Council talks of water rationing but it forgets that we have highland areas in Gweru. These areas even if they are scheduled to have water for two days, the first beneficiaries will be residents in the low line areas. Hence, these residents in highland areas will receive little and at times no water. I am disappointed by our council,” Chipare said.
The planners of the Paris Declaration on Climate Change and the mainstreamers of the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action have since encouraged concerted efforts in addressing the climate change question.
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in September this year recommended member states to take the climate question seriously. He referred to climate change as the threatening source of inequalities and conflicts.
In an interview Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association Cornilia Selipiwe said climate change has affected communities in several ways such as altering the rainfall patterns, and Gweru has not received significant rains over the past two years which has affected our dams and water supply in the city.
‘’Responding to the climate change and water crisis, as GRRA we have and we are still planting trees to reduce global warming, and we are encouraging residents to save water through responsible use. We have also advised the council to devise the water harvesting strategies,” said Selipiwe.
Gweru City Council Ward 8 councillor Notal Dzika said the local authority is trying to take immediate measures to curb the water crisis.
“That is the reason why we are trying to source equipment to use Amapungubwe dam, drill more boreholes, reduce the water leakages and exercising water rationing. The response to climate change might require a long-term solution,” said Dzika.
Gweru Urban legislator, Brian Dube, he said government is taking measures to address the water challenge such as supporting the local authority with the funds to buy equipment such as pumps.
“However, while government is also working on SDGs which also cover climate change action, very little has been done to mainstream SDGs to local authorities. This has made us to be behind in terms of responding to climate change,” said Dube.
An academic based at Midlands State University (MSU), Dr Ishmael Mazambani said there is still time for the Gweru local authority to start investigating the issue of climate change and contribute towards the reduction of global warming.
“It is not a one day story but the Gweru City Council can be an inspiration to other local authorities and they can roll out programmes to reduce global warming such as planting more trees, and having more water harvesting bodies.
“They can also partner with the non-governmental organisations, private sector and academic institutions such as MSU to deliberate and address this challenge,” added Dr Mazambani.
Gweru city council must therefore start to prioritize this discussion of climate change and take steps to respond to it that ensure systematic water harvesting, conservation, and supply.