The Roman Catholic church says Zimbabwe’s chronic water shortages should be declared a national disaster.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace retains that collapsed water and sanitation facilities will cause “more suffering and deaths” as annual rains begin.

Nearly 250 cases of the waterborne disease typhoid were treated in Harare last month. 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 of Harare haven’t had access to piped water for months — or even years — amid the country’s economic meltdown.