Municipal water supplies in the Zimbabwean capital are unsafe to drink, authorities said Thursday, in the latest blow to amenities in the long-suffering city. Tests conducted on water samples collected in Harare found high levels of harmful bacteria and sediments, according to a report by Harare municipal engineer Michael Jaravaza. Toxin-producing algae was also detected due to shortages of chlorine and imported water treatment chemicals.
The samples failed to meet minimum World Health Organization safety standards for drinking water, the report said. Zimbabwe's economic collapse has taken a toll on municipal services. Harare suffers regular water and power cuts, garbage collection has collapsed, and patients at public hospitals are asked to bring their own drugs.
The country's main food processing firms and brewery have lodged formal complaints about the water quality, which they say threatens production.
Health authorities have reported a recent upsurge in dysentery and diarrhea cases. The water shutdowns have blocked sanitation facilities, and sewers have burst when the supply was restored. Residents in the city's poorest districts have resorted to collecting water from streams and drains.
A massive power cut blacked out an industrial complex and a township south of Harare on Sunday, shutting down commercial and domestic refrigeration. Executives at one firm said they transferred perishable foods to refrigerated trucks. Most of Chitungwiza township remained in the dark Thursday.
Zimbabwe is caught in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, with spiraling inflation, now running at 502 percent, and acute shortages of food, hard currency, fuel and other essential imports, reports the AP. I.L.