|Power shortages create health hazards in lowveld
By Tererai Karimakwenda
June 08, 2007
Power shortages are making life miserable for residents of Zimbabwe’s lowveld area. Electric pumps that fill up tanks on hilltops, which in turn feed water to the population, are not working. Sugar is grown in the lowveld but they say life is not sweet these days.
We received reports that the whole of Chiredzi township is starting to smell because of the unflushed toilets. The sugar cane fields are beginning to show signs of stress because they are also not getting watered. And animals are going thirsty for long periods because pumps that bring water to pans in the conservancies do not work without electricity. The power shortages are creating health hazards for both people and animals.
Chiredzi farmer Gerry Whitehead said the high-density areas of Chiredzi Town where the majority of the people live are very crowded and they have no lights and no water to drink or flush toilets. Whitehead said the situation is so sad you can see it on the people’s faces.
The electricity blackouts are also affecting wild life in the Conservancies. Herds of animals are often seen waiting at their usual watering places which are now dry. Water carts drawn by tractors are being used to try to provide some water. Whitehead told us that temperatures have risen in the last few days causing animals to visit the pans more often.
Companies are suffering as well without power. According to the Chiredzi farmer, many have almost stopped working in the Lowveld, and shops are nearly empty. Whitehead said there is no variety of food and people are not shopping.
Fuel supplies are getting worse with the price going up daily by a thousand Zimbabwe dollars. “Today it is Z$70,000 per litre and tomorrow it will be Z$71,000 per litre. This is causing food prices to increase,” said Whitehead.