- “We need to invest in modern technology and effectively use underground water. Countries in the Middle East don't have much water yet don’t have a crisis because they invest in technologies," Modi said.
As the Bulawayo City Council has failed to ensure water continues running out of taps in the city’s homes, Bulawayo South MP Raji Modi (Zanu-PF) has launched a “free water for all” programme in which trucks take water from his boreholes to people’s homes.
Modi, who is also the country’s deputy minister of industry, launched the initiative in November.
Water trucks he has hired now deliver water to neighbourhoods without it, drawn from his own borehole wells.
“I have a sustainable water plant and decided to assist residents who go for days without due to water cuts,” he said, noting the cost of the effort was mainly fuel for the trucks.
Modi suggested pumping and storing more groundwater could be one way to help Bulawayo deal with its worsening water shortages.
“We need to invest in modern technology and effectively use underground water. Countries in the Middle East don’t have much water yet don’t have a crisis because they invest in technologies,” he said.
“We need to adopt the same because water is the foundation for industrialisation and development,” he said.
Bulawayo City Council officials said they remains optimistic Bulawayo will not face a “Day Zero” where taps run completely dry despite rationing and restrictions.
Cape Town, in neighbouring South Africa, avoided such a situation in 2018 by making widespread reductions in water use. Many of those restrictions still remain in place, in recognition of long-term climate-driven drying in the region.
For now, Bulawayo officials have pinned their hopes on divine help.
“Despite interventions in place, we pray it rains,” said Sikhululekile Moyo, a councillor for Pumula North.
She said a long-term solution would be to bring water to Bulawayo from the Zambezi River, 400 km away – but plans for such a diversion are costly, have been delayed repeatedly for more than a century and are opposed by Zambia.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, said several years of drought had created serious problems for Zimbabwe’s water supply.
“We are still recovering from a devastating drought that occurred (in 2018) due to El Nino. Under normal circumstances during this time of the year, the country would have recorded significant amounts of rainfall with impact to our dams,” he said.
Zimbabwe has seen rain in recent weeks – including violent storms that destroyed roofs and washed away bridges – but water reserves overall remain low.
Ndlovu said families had been advised to try to harvest rainwater and to plant early maturing crops, which require a shorter period of rainfall to grow.
“My ministry is looking at how best to assist communities,” he said.
But some Bulawayo residents said the national government had done too little to help the city.
“Government has done nothing to solve Bulawayo’s water crisis,” complained Sinothando Mathe, who lives in Pumula North, a poor western suburb.