THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company will virtually host the 2020 Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Energy (WASHen) Conference tomorrow.
The water-climate-industry conference is being organised in partnership with the Bulawayo City Council and the Climate Change Management Department in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
This year’s conference will be held virtually as a Covid-19 precautionary measure. It will run under the theme: “Shaping Resilient Cities Through Smart Water and Sanitation Management”.
Ms Leah Wanambwa Naess, a senior policy officer in the division of environment, climate change, water and land management at the African Union Commission, would deliver a keynote address on how other countries at regional level are implementing and managing water and sanitation challenges.
About 100 delegates representing central and local Government, regulatory authorities, non-governmental organisations, industry and commerce, climate change and environmental specialists, agriculture, financial services and civic leaders are expected to take part, said ZITF Company.
In a media update, the ZITF Company said the WASHen expo seeks to encourage sharing of experiences and international best practice, which Zimbabwe can adopt in dealing with water shortages and climate change.
“The platform will facilitate engagement and dialogue on access to clean, safe drinking water, which is essential for the health, social and economic development of both developing and developed countries,” said the exhibition firm.
“The challenge of providing safe water and the need to respond with sustainable operating models is amplified in many developing cities throughout the world.
“They are plagued with the need to manage the capital expenditure in the face of dilapidating and aged infrastructure while also trying to modernise their operations at the same time keeping citizens informed and engaged.”
Experts say the experience in urban water utilities has highlighted unique challenges that local authorities face in maintaining sustainable operating models in the face of pressures to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on access to water.
In Zimbabwe, many councils are affected by climate change, which has hampered their ability to ensure constant supply of clean and safe drinking water.
As such, operators are required to balance heightened regulatory requirements related to operating standards, water quality and customer service while also investing in, replacing or extending water distribution infrastructure, especially in the context of a changing climate.
Other speakers include the director of climate change management in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Washington Zhakata, Bulawayo City Council’s director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube and the business and financial services advisor for SNV Netherlands Development Organisation Zimbabwe, Mr Mbekezeli Mthunzi.