Typhoid outbreak in Gweru: Lessons learnt and demands

Background to The Typhoid Outbreak

On 11/07/2018, Community Water Alliance (CWA) issued a statement on an un-explained four days water cuts in Senga, Gweru. In the same communication CWA revealed that its own independent investigations showed that the water cuts have been triggered by the contamination of potable water by sewer pipe lines. We called Gweru Municipality staff particularly Engineer Maphosa who expressed ignorance on the issue. The message issued by Community Water Alliance had the #MvuraCheteChete, #VulaKogaKoga, #AmanziKuphela, #WaterHasMyVote and the #Peoples’OwnVoiceOnWater signatures at the bottom. The signature was a realization that we are heading towards 30 July 2018 elections, where issues should rise above personalities; where issues should pre-occupy the minds and motivation of those seeking public office. This signature was driven under the banner of the #PotableWaterBy2020, an access to quality water campaign birthed by CWA to push specific demands that will resolve the challenges the challenges bedevilling the water sector.

Update On The Typhoid Situation In Gweru

There are about 8 centres that have been established by Gweru City Council to diagnose typhoid. These centres are in Village 2, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 20. Village 13 and 2 are referral centres acting as the central diagnosis centre and the admission units. Also Gweru Provincial Hospital and Midlands Private Hospital have established some admissions facilities. Visits made by Gweru Residents Forum showed that 1000 cases have been recorded at Mkoba Polyclinic alone by 15 August 2018. In Village 2 at least 50 cases were recorded on a daily basis and on 05 August 2018 when GRF visited Village 2 about 20 patients were admitted at the local clinic. Of those affected about 60% were children under the age of 10 years. This is the information we have collected for only two centres.

The number of deaths so far is in the public domain.

On 19/08/2018 nurses arrived late at Mkoba 15 centre next to Toyo shopping centre. Patients were already waiting to be attended.

What is the source of typhoid in Gweru

The source and the various ways in which typhoid is spread has been a subject of debate.

Firstly CWA contend that the contamination of council potable water particularly mixing with sewerage is the main source. This has been confirmed by households in Mkoba 18, 20 and 29 which tested water with Salmonella.

Secondly the management of Gweru City Council have reports that some people might have used water from wells contaminated by E Coli and sewage in Mkoba 19.

Thirdly there is reference to the city wide shut down in Gweru sometime in July (NB – take note of the CWA Senga issue) whose mission was to cleanse the water tank at Kopje Range Booster. There are reports that Council management forgot to cleanse the pipes which then carried the water residues. This contaminated water which was piped to residents.

Fourthly some boreholes in Mkoba 19 and 20 alternated days of testing positive to human faecal matter and negative some days.

Fifthly there is also assertion from some council officials that there was a burst water pipe in Mkoba 18 which mixed with sewage.

Demands

  • Increased national fiscal commitment expressed through a meaningful budget allocation. The budget allocation on water and sanitation for 2018 is a paltry 2,5%. Since independence the national budget allocation is approximately 1,2% of the budget. 2019 BUDGET SHOULD BE AT LEAST 10%. Section 301(3) “not less than 5% of the national revenues raised in any financial must be allocated to the provinces and local authorities as their share in that year. The budget should address pipes replacement, sewer plant rehabilitation etc.
  • Proper coordination among key state players Gweru City Council; Ministry of Local Government; Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate; Ministry of Health. Devolution framework enunciated in Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe can provide a framework that ensures coordination.
  • Address root causes to typhoid outbreak and stop harassing those who are trying to earn a living in CBD.
  • Preservation of fresh water sources that guarantee sustainable and quality water delivery. Wetlands preservation is a priority.

Source: Community Water Alliance and Gweru Residents Forum

Contact Persons
Charles Mazorodze (Gweru Residents Forum – Director) 0772 547 394
Timothy Chitambure (CWA – Coordinator) 0772 698 387