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Zimbabwe Braces for Water Shortages as El Niño-Linked Drought Persists

 The Zimbabwean government warns of impending water shortages in several communities due to El Niño-driven drought conditions. "We've received concerning updates from the Agriculture Minister," stated Information Minister Jenfan Muswere. "Reduced rainfall is putting a strain on key dams, and some may not be able to fully meet community needs."

Rutendo Maraire

Despite national dams being 79.9% full as of April 4, exceeding the expected 71.7%, localized shortages remain a threat. The government has allocated over $1 million USD of the roughly $4.9 million needed to secure an adequate water supply of 520 megaliters per day.

A major concern is the dwindling water level of Lake Kariba, a critical source of hydropower. According to the Zambezi Water Authority, it stands at 13.52% usable storage, a significant drop compared to last year's 21.94%.

In response, the government has drilled 346 boreholes in Harare to improve the city's water supply. Additionally, 12 dam construction projects are underway to bolster water access in both rural and urban areas. "Our priority is the swift completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani in Matebeleland North," Muswere emphasized.

Urban water security assessments reveal a mixed picture: 48.9% of the 47 monitored urban centers have a sufficient water supply for 21 months, while 12.8% have less than a year's worth.

This situation raises public health concerns. "Water shortages directly impact sanitation, posing a serious health threat," warns a public health expert familiar with the Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (2010) study. Zimbabwe currently grapples with lingering cholera cases, and experts caution the drought could exacerbate the outbreak.

Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora recently declared ten districts cholera-free – a positive sign. However, he stressed, "The ongoing drought demands continued vigilance to prevent a resurgence of this water-borne disease."


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