Synchronized Flushing In Zimbabwe Is Not A New Olympic Sport | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Synchronized Flushing In Zimbabwe Is Not A New Olympic Sport

Residents of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, are engaging in a community-wide flushing of toilets today.

Is it a symbolic washing away of waste? A sign of protest? A commode "flash mob?"

None of the above.

After months of severe water shortages, the city's authorities have imposed 72 hours of water rationing a week. Two of Bulawayo's five supply dams have dried up because of the drought, according to the online version of Africa Review. So, when water is restored to the city's 1 million residents today, the city council has asked everyone to pitch in for the "Big Flush," at 7:30 p.m. local time.

The AP explains that synchronized flushing will clear waste that has been accumulating in the city's sanitary facilities during the past three days of water rationing.

According to city council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu, just because water is being restored fully to residents for now does not mean that everything is OK.

"Water rationing may be extended to 92-hour periods. The situation is very serious," she says. In fact, there is the risk that two more dams could dry up before the rainy season begins in November.

While the idea of a Big Flush might seem like a good way to unify a population around a problem, the drought and the need to flush the sewage lines is indicative of a larger issue. Zimbabwe has been plagued with severe droughts in the past and the shortages have contributed to outbreaks of cholera and typhoid — the worst of which occurred in the capital, Harare, in 2010 when more than 4,000 people died.

Theoretically, help is on the way. After years of stalling, there is now a plan underway to build a pipeline that draws water from the Zambezi River. Newzimbabwe.com reports that China committed $2.2 million to the project, but it is not expected to be complete until 2014 at the earliest.

In the meantime, the people of Bulaweyo will have to find ways to be resourceful in using their water sparingly — and hope that some good comes out of the Big Flush.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The Dread Factor: Why Ebola And 'Contagion' Scare Us So Much

Even just the word Ebola is kind of terrifying. Why? Hollywood has a lot to do with it. But Ebola outbreaks also have all the ingredients for what one psychologist calls the "dread factor."
NPR

Author And His Daughter Cook Around The Word And You Can Too

Kelly McEvers talks to food writer Mark Kurlansky and his daughter Talia about their cookbook International Night, based on their tradition of cooking a meal every week from a different country.
NPR

Senate Control May Swing On North Carolina's Unpopularity Contest

Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan wants voters to punish her GOP challenger Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, for unpopular laws. Tillis wants to aim anger toward the president at Hagan.
NPR

Islamic State Uses Online Strategies To Get Its Message Out

Experts say the videotaped killing of journalist James Foley is part of a broader propaganda strategy by Islamist militants. The group, the Islamic State, has become a master of the video medium.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.