Two of the five dams that supply Bulawayo are completely dry. The other three are about to reach that point. The first water restrictions were ordered last June. At first, they lasted one day, then one and a half days. Today, the stoppage lasts for 72 hours at a time. With the water we receive on Monday morning, for example, we fill containers so that there is water until Friday. Then on Saturday, the water supply is cut again until Monday, and the process continues.
For now, there is no cholera, but people fear there will be an epidemic. Without being able to wash our hands properly, we are being exposed to diseases and infections. [Editor’s note: in October 2011, 6,000 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported in the south of the country, and in 2008, an epidemic affected 100,000 victims and killed 4,500 people.]
Mthokozisi Ndebele filmed these images in April 2012 for the program Voices of Africa, which promotes citizen journalism initiatives in Africa.
All the suburbs and townships of Bulawayo have defective sewerage and overflowing manholes. When I filmed these images in April, the problem already existed, but the drought has made things worse. Today, rubbish and wastewater stagnate. The city’s deterioration is very worrying, especially as Bulawayo was once regarded as one of the cleanest cities of southern Africa [Editor’s note: Bulawayo experienced a golden age
after being founded in the middle of the 19th century and becoming an industrial centre. However, for the past decade, the city has struggled to recover from deindustrialisation].”