Residents of Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, are being asked to flush their toilets at the same time, in a move city officials hope will unblock sewers following days of severe water rationing, the BBC reported.
The Bulawayo City Council has asked its more than 1 million residents to flush their toilets simultaneously at 7:30 p.m. when water supplies are restored. City officials say "synchronized flushing" is needed to clear waste that would have accumulated in sanitary facilities that will have been affected by days of water outages.
Residents can go without running water for three days at a time, the BBC reported.
Bulawayo's two main supply dams have been drying up because of drought conditions prevailing in the arid, southwestern part of Zimbabwe, raising fears of worsening water shortages before the rainy season starts in November.
According to the BBC, the first synchronized flushing took place Monday. City workers had warned residents they risked a fine if they didn't participate.
"I made sure my wife and children flushed the toilet at 19:30 to avoid blocking our own toilet. So far, the flushing of toilets was a success here in Cowdray Park township," Dumisani Mpofu told the BBC.
The lack of water in the system has led to a build-up that's causing sewer pipes to burst all over the city, according to NewZimbabwe.com. The city plans to have the synchronized flush at the same time twice a week - on Mondays and Thursdays.
The proposal was met with skepticism by some residents.
"I don't think the exercise will be a success because when the flushing comes at 7:30, many townships would be without water," Bulawayo United Residents Association chairman Winos Dube told the BBC.
"Our leaders are a joke," Petros Ncube told the BBC, adding: "What they should be doing is finding money from donors to buy new sewer pipes."
Synchronized flushing was first introduced to Bulawayo two decades ago at the height of a drought that ravaged the southern African nation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Report: Iran commander warns of 'World War III'
- Religious pilgrimages: a multi-billion dollar industry
- Ancient land of 'Beringia' gets protection from US, Russia
- Officials see Iran behind cyber attacks on US banks
- Stay informed: Sign up for our newsletter