Pool of Death - Lifeline for Epworth Residents
On the 9th of September 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) monitoring team together with the Harare Provincial Vice Chairperson, Ms Sarah Njanji visited Solani area in Epworth where the community has experienced water problems since years back. ZimRights learnt that fighting a pandemic has brought a new normal to Zimbabweans, and the worst economic crisis in a decade - residents of Epworth, are burdened with yet another challenge, water crisis. This has made living a nightmare in the dormitory town.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights under General Comment 15 states, “everyone is entitled to available, physically accessible, affordable, acceptable and quality potable water. Even the constitution of Zimbabwe implores the state to ensure the provision of quality water, however Epworth residents are using water from the Pool of death, a disused quarry dam. Are they forgotten?
Without access to tap water for months on, Epworth residents in Solani have turned to an unlikely place for water, a disused pool from an abandoned quarry mine popularly known in the area as the “Pool of Death.” The ‘Pool of Death,’ because people have died in the pool, some committing suicides, others murdered and then dumped into the pool while others accidentally drown while fetching the precious commodity. The residents have said while they are aware and have witnessed a lot of lives being claimed by the pool, they have no choice but to use the now visibly dirty water. So dire is the situation that many people are now drinking water from the pool of death, posing a health risk that may lead to outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
The residents are aware that they are exposing their health to the vagaries of water borne diseases but what choice do they have- it is either the dirty water or no water at all. They use the water from the dam - which has claimed lives to wash clothes, use it to clean their plates and some even drinking it. They say it is the only reliable source of water and they have no choice. The residents are pleading for boreholes in the area and said with the persisting water challenges, Epworth was sitting on a health time bomb.
A good Samaritan, popularly known as Madzibaba Biggie of Johanne Masowe eChishanu in the area who draws water in bulk from the dam to use at his shrine, using a water pump has become a savior in the area. On the two days a week Wednesday and Saturday he draws water, Epworth residents mostly women and children who have born the brunt of the water shortages crowd to wash clothes, without masks exposing the community to the COVID 19 pandemic.
ZimRights Harare Provincial Vice Chairperson, an Epworth resident Sarah Njanji, said while the community is aware of the pandemic, they cannot afford masks and they cannot avoid the crowding. “You have to wash the clothes when the water pump is being used, it is easy than drawing water from the quarry dam using your hands and small tins. People cannot afford the masks. It is a double tragedy- exposing our health either to the water borne diseases or to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Njanji speaks.
Epworth lags behind in terms of the provision of basic services such as clean water, sewer systems electricity and roads. Zimbabwe has not honored the commitment of citizen’s rights to water and sanitation. ZimRights calls on the government, a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights where under General Comment 15 everyone is entitled to available, physically accessible, affordable, acceptable and quality potable water; to honur its obligations. Water problems are not only limited to Epworth but a lot of especially urban areas are struggling to get water.
ZimRights also remind the State of Section 77 of the Constitution: 'Every person has a right to (a) safe, clean and potable water and the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realization of this right.
Report Issued by
Mashingaidze T. (Mr)
Provincial Chairperson Harare