Church sounds alarm over Zimbabwe water supplies

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The Roman Catholic church says Zimbabwe's chronic water shortages should be declared a national disaster.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace says in a statement Sunday collapsed water and sanitation facilities will cause "more suffering and deaths" as annual rains begin.

Nearly 250 cases of the waterborne disease typhoid have been treated in Harare this month. No deaths have so far been reported, but in 2009 a cholera outbreak killed more than 4,000 people.

The commission says emergency funds are needed in areas where people take contaminated water from drains and shallow, makeshift wells.

Some impoverished townships haven't had access to piped water for months -- or even years -- amid the country's economic meltdown.