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Zimbabwe: Chitungwiza residents look forward to healthier lives as $1 million ZimFund project tackles sewage woes

For Lovelin Chapfika, the excitement of purchasing a house in a residential area outside the Zimbabwean capital quickly turned to disappointment when she discovered her new neighbourhood experienced frequent sewage blockages and overflows.

Sewer blockages, Chitungwiza
Photo: AfDB

Living in Chitungwiza Unit C extension, about 25 km south of Harare, has not been easy for the mother of three and her family since they arrived in 2013. The lowest point was when they contracted typhoid due to sewage contamination and were admitted to hospital.

“The situation is terrible, more so, during the rainy season as sewage floods the house. I found out that this problem has existed way before we bought the house. I suspect this is why the owner sold it,” Chapfika said.

In order to strengthen sanitation services in Chitungwiza to prevent recurrence of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, the African Development Bank’s ZimFund has allocated $1.087 million towards addressing these sewage problems.

Chitungwiza’s water and sewerage infrastructure was constructed over 50 years ago and was designed to cater for only about a third of its current 500,000 population. The system, thus is overwhelmed, resulting in overspills of effluent.

Exposure to waterborne diseases not only poses a threat to the local residents, but to those in Harare. An estimated 150,000 Chitungwiza residents commute to Harare daily – perfect carriers for the disease in and out of the capital city. And given that the Manyame River passes through Chitungwiza before emptying into Lake Chivero, Harare’s primary water source, any pollution entering the river system from Chitungwiza ultimately affects the water quality downstream.

The ZimFund support aims to address the municipality’s perennial overspill at several trunk sewer hotspots. The intervention will concentrate on the  upgrading and rerouting of the outfall sewer to run along the new Chitungwiza highway, and diverting and upgrading trunk sewers within the Seke areas of Luciano and Gomba.

The funds will also be used to reconnect the collector to the outflow sewers to prevent the  frequent spillages caused by some houses being constructed on top of trunk and small sewers. It will also provide utility vehicles in each of the three districts Seke, Zengeza and St. Mary’s to deal with blockages in a timely manner.

It will also provide technical assistance, including the inspection technology; operation and maintenance tools; the construction of manholes; and sanitation and hygiene education through the Chitungwiza Health Department.

The project is expected to start in July 2020 with a completion target of December 2020, provided that the COVID-19 pandemic does not derail its implementation. It’s hoped the intervention will help residents like Lovelin Chapfika lead safer, healthier lives.

“This is the best news I have heard during this COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to living in a habitable environment with a functional sewerage system. Thanks to ZimFund for supporting us,” she said.

Chitungwiza Municipality is already a beneficiary of ZimFund’s Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation project (UWSSRP) Phase I and Phase II. The first phase included the rehabilitation of Zengeza’s Conventional Sewage Treatment Works with a capacity of 35 million litres a day. Four sets of sewage treatment ponds and five trickling filters were installed.

In 2010, the Bank, through the African Water Facility grant, supported the rehabilitation of water distribution and sewage systems in Chitungwiza by rehabilitating three sewage pumps. Apart from water and sanitation, the Bank also supports other sectors such as agriculture, transport, social welfare, private enterprise, and the financial and energy sectors in Zimbabwe.

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