Budiriro’s sickening maize fields
Sunday, 22 January 2012 11:55
BY JENNIFER DUBE
THE sound of gushing water can be heard as one approaches a flourishing
maize field at an open space in the sprawling Budiriro 4 high-density
As the source of the sound comes into view, one would be forgiven for
thinking it is a water fountain in a neglected park.
A closer look however, shows the site is actually a faulty manhole,
continuously spewing raw sewage into a stream which flows through a nearby
municipal farm, en-route to Lake Chivero, Harare’s main source of drinking
A few metres down the sewer line is yet another defective manhole, also
incessantly discharging human waste into the same stream.
But despite the dangers of contracting communicable diseases, some residents
have planted maize, tomatoes and vegetables in the area surrounding the
manholes and along the stream.
The vegetables and green maize — grown and harvested under unhygienic
conditions — are later sold to unsuspecting consumers exposing them to
Cattle at the council-owned farm drank the sewage water which is in
abundance. Children who go to the nearby school said they were unhappy with
the repugnant smell and the mud caused by the manholes.
“When I started school at (Budiriro) High 1 in 2009, one of my challenges
was crossing this area because it is always smelly and muddy because of the
sewage,” Nicola Chibanda said.
“It gets worse during the rainy season. We always see city council workers
at the manholes, but the sewage continues flowing onto our path.”
A man, who said he was a caretaker at the school, said the situation was not
“The children have been complaining about the mud and that is why I decided
to work from here today, although all I can do is dig trenches for the water
to flow to the opposite direction and also put grass and soil over the mud,”
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) recently fined the Harare City
Council (HCC) US$15 000 for environmental mismanagement. Among other
charges, the city was found guilty of water and effluent mismanagement and
was fined US$15 000.
The Budiriro manholes were cited among other poorly managed sites. Acting
town clerk Prosper Chonzi on Thursday said the city had plans to attend to
the sewer bursts and all other environmental hot spots.
“We are just waiting for the money from the Afrexim (China’s African
Export-Import) Bank which agreed to fund our projects. That our cattle drink
the water is not a concern because that is part of the ecosystem, (the)
reason why we use final effluent to irrigate pasture.”
He added: “But we may have to reprioritise and attend to the site much
earlier than we had planned because of these complaints which are now coming
through.” Chonzi on Thursday told a special council meeting that
Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Kambuzuma suburbs have been hit by
diarrhoea outbreaks in recent days.
Chonzi said that 450 people were attended with diarrhoea and other typhoid
symptoms at Warren Park Clinic since the first week of January. He said more
than 200 people who were “much sicker than those attended to in
Dzivarasekwa”, arrived with diarrhoea, fever, headaches and other typhoid
symptoms at Kuwadzana Clinic between Monday and Thursday last week alone.