A Zimbabwean town gets its water cut off – again


Residents of Redcliff, in Zimbabwe, a town of 35,000, have been without running water for several days now because the city has not paid its bills. This is the second time in two years that they have been through this ordeal.

In November 2014, our Observer Tendai Mbofana had alerted us to the problem after Redcliff had gone without water for several days, leading to fears of cholera.

A year later, the same scenario is unfolding again. Because Redcliff authorities have not paid their bills in full, the nearby city of Kwekwe, which provides Redcliff's water, has cut off its supply. Our Observer sent us a few photos showing how this is affecting residents.

Dirty dishes are piling up.

In an article published in the local press, Redcliff’s finance director explained why the town had such difficulties paying its bills. According to him, the city of Kwekwe charges Redcliff USD$160,000 (about €147,400) per month for water, but city authorities only manage to collect about USD$30,000 (about €27,700) from residents and local businesses.

Redcliff’s water supply is one of the most expensive in the country.

Buckets are used to flush the toilets. 

About 20 Redcliff families own private wells, but only a few distribute water for free during shortages.

Residents going to get water from neighbours who have a well.

Like Redcliff, numerous other cities in Zimbabwe are in dire financial straits. Zimbabwe’s overall economy is moribund, and the country is today considered an insolvent state.