Water runs dry in Zimbabwe as climate crisis brings more devastating drought to the region

When the climate gets hotter, more water evaporates and droughts are more common. As global temperatures rise due to uncontrolled climate change, water shortages are becoming a stark reality, especially in places like Zimbabwe in Africa.

Zimbabwe is used to droughts, but because the climate crisis is making them worse and longer-lasting, the country’s water supply is drying up, resulting in taps running dry and residents only getting running water once a week if they are lucky.

Seriously, imagine that happening in the United States for just a day. Of course, Americans would just shrug it off and buy bottled water, which is contributing to the plastics crisis that also contributes to worsening climate change.

But what if America faces the kind of water shortage that Zimbabwe is dealing with, not just for a day, but for months?

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. America recently had a massive heatwave that struck the entire country as the thermometer hit the upper 90s and even triple digits in just about every state.

More of these temperatures for longer periods of time without the rains we had earlier this year, and farmers won’t have to just worry about floods and being hot, they’ll have to worry about drought and not being able to water their crops.

Wells are already running dry in several places in the nation, forcing landowners to dig deeper for the precious resource. Meanwhile, aquifers have dropped by several feet, not just because of hotter temperatures, but because of overuse, particularly by the beef industry.

A water crisis in our country would not only result in a food crisis here, but it would also result in a food crisis on a global scale as American farmers export more food than farmers in any other country.

Zimbabwe, however, does not even have enough water to grow crops, nor enough to bathe, wash clothes, or even drink, forcing them to rely on boreholes that are linked to disease.

“Water-borne diseases linked to these boreholes are on the rise, but people have had to take in their own hands water supply because the utility has failed to provide water,” WaterNet manager Jean-Marie Kileshye-Onema told Climate Change News.

The water shortage is so bad that the supply rotates between towns and cities, but it’s just not enough.

“There is a rotational water supply within the five towns,” Harare city council communications manager Michael Chideme said. “Some people are getting water five days a week especially in the western suburbs, but the northern suburbs are going for weeks without a drop in their taps.”

And that’s not the only shortage. Zimbabwe also doesn’t have enough chemicals to purify water, making people more susceptible to diseases such as cholera.

“We are using more chemicals and we have not been able to procure enough safe chemicals as a result,” Harare’s Acting Water director Mabhena Moyo told CNN. “We are targeting to provide water to our residents with a minimum of once a week’ supply of the precious liquid.”

“We are looking at hygiene standards, service delivery and ablution system which requires water,” said Hardlife Mudzingwa of the Community Water Alliance Citizens. “Citizens have been greatly affected and the cholera hotspots are what we fear the most.”

Again, the world is dealing with more severe droughts because of climate change and if we continue to drag our feet when it comes to meaningfully dealing with it, Zimbabwe’s present will be America’s future.

We all need water. We all rely on it. We will not survive without it. Only by tackling climate change before it gets worse and making a concerted effort to conserve water can we avoid the crisis Zimbabwe is suffering right now.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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