Zimbabwe is losing up to US$194 million every year due to failure by local authorities to properly manage sewer, Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri’s report on the management of sewerage systems by urban local authorities has shown.
The report assessed the management of sewer by councils in the country and proffered various solutions.
It used a sample of six urban councils — Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, Marondera and Chitungwiza — for the period from January 2013 to June 2017.
“Failure to manage sewer systems has deadly consequences as evidenced by the death of 560 people and infection of 590 753 from water borne diseases in 2013,” reads part of Mrs Chiri’s report published this week.
“Poor sanitation also impacts negatively on the country’s economy, costing US$194 million annually which is equivalent to 1,3 percent of our annual Gross Domestic Product. This translates to an average of US$16,4 per capita annually.”
Mrs Chiri concluded that most urban councils recharge their surface water sources with treated sewage effluent, making waste water a critical component of the water supply system.
She called for improved service delivery that tracks leaks and timeously attends to them.
“Ensure timeous rehabilitation of sewer systems and adhere to routine inspections and maintenance schedules so as to preserve the lifespan and reduce health hazards to the public,” said Mrs Chiri.
“This may reduce the number of sewer blockages and ensure the treatment of sewage waste before it is pumped into water bodies where potable water is drawn.”
Mrs Chiri recommended the use of technology in locating the faults, thereby leading to quick attention to problems.
Some of the technology that can be used include line cameras, Geographic Information Systems gadgets and optic laser leak detectors, to facilitate online monitoring of sewer reticulation systems.
Many councils are still contending with sewer problems, which have caused water borne diseases.
Residents are unhappy that council bosses continue to collect rates every month, while they live side-by-side with garbage, and have called on Government to deepen its fight against corruption that has seen many local authorities’ bosses being arrested.