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Bottled water: Zimbabwe's liquid asset

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 01:30

As drought continues to punish Zimbabwe's economy, residents in its capital are turning to bottled water to quench their thirst, with the commodity outselling alcohol in many parts of the city. Ivor Bennett reports

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In drought-hit Harare, it's no surprise motorists are willing to splash out. Hawkers can make as much as 30 dollars a day from selling bottled water - the city's latest liquid asset. (SOUNDBITE) (Shona) FARAI MUSHAYADEMO, WATER VENDOR, SAYING: "I survive on selling water and soft drinks on the street, this enables me to pay rent and take care of my family". An estimated 300,000 litres of bottle water change hands every day in Zimbabwe's capital. A city of barely 1 and a half million. It even outsells alcohol and soft drinks in some areas. Turn on the tap and you realise why. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HARARE RESIDENT, SAYING, "We prefer bottled water than that of the city council which has rusty particles and a funny colour" Some do still drink it. But health authorities warn typhoid is a serious risk. It's been a problem for nearly a decade now. Affected by drought, power cuts and a chronic shortage of funds. Chinese money was suppsoed to help fix it. But civic groups say half the water is still being lost through leaks, with the city producing only 40 percent of what's needed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRECIOUS SHUMBA, DIRECTOR, HARARE RESIDENTS TRUST, SAYING: "To us these people have taken advantage of an opportunity that has presented itself and they are making a lot of money out of it." The joke in Harare is that, per square metre, it has more people drinking bottled water than Manhattan. If only the reasons why weren't so amusing.

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Bottled water: Zimbabwe's liquid asset

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 01:30