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<< Back to: Member News: ICLEI e-News | issue 8, June - July 2007

Water shortage in Bulawayo

May 30, 2007

As a result of reduced rainfall this year, Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) will not be able to supply water to the city past the month of September.

Bulawayo’s Executive Mayor, Mr. Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, explained that, “During the just ended rain season, our (five) dams received a total inflow of just 11 million cubic metres, as opposed to the 73 million cubic metres of rainwater that we received during the previous season.”

The city has managed to supply water to its 1.5 million people with the help of the network of five dams, but they are all closing one by one due to lack of water.  As a result, the council has imposed stringent water rationing measures.  Low-density households can use 450 litres of water per day, and high-density households are allowed 300 litres per day.   As well, foreign donors and non-governmental organizations are assisting by sinking boreholes in high water-yielding aquifers.

Another source of water being investigated is to transport water by train from the Zambezi River, about 400 kilometres northwest of the city.

The ICLEI Water Campaign is an international freshwater management program that aims to build the capacity of local governments to reduce water consumption and improve local water quality.  For more information on ICLEI’s Water Campaign, please visit www.iclei.org/water

Bulawayo is one of 37 local governments in Africa that are currently Members of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.  For more information on ICLEI and its activities in Africa, please visit www.iclei.org/africa.

Source: "Zimbabwe: Water train to thirsty Bulawayp?", UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 24 April 2007; and "The water crisis in Bulawayo", Zimbabwe News, 31 January 2007.