EU boosts Chivi water, sanitation projects

CHIVI - A few months ago, Mary Mangoma from Chivi District in Masvingo Province faced a serious water problem as she had little access to potable water as well as proper sanitation.

Every morning, she was forced to travel at least three kilometres to the nearest water source, a small unprotected water pond that also provided water for more than 40 homesteads.

The journey to the water source took almost three hours and sometimes, she did it twice a day. To make matters worse, water from that pond was dirty and unsafe.

To Mangoma and other villagers in Chivi, the lack of safe water was not the only major problem as the sanitation challenge was even more striking. Most people were forced to practice open defecation.

But thanks to a four-year project code-named Chivi, Sanitation and Hygiene Project (Chiwash) funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Federation for Red Cross in partnership with Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS), Mangoma is now a relieved and happy woman.

“Before the ZRCS and EU gave us this borehole, the water situation was quite bad because we would walk three kilometres to Chamaridza or 3,5 kilometres to Maringire every morning.

“This would leave us with no time to do any chores around the house,” she said.

Another villager from the district, Felistus Chizanaga, said since women and young girls are more than twice as likely as men and young boys to be responsible for water collection, they were vulnerable to many forms of abuse.

“Women and young girls, who are the major role-players in accessing and carrying water, were at an increased risk for all sorts of violence since they travelled three to five kilometres on a daily basis and sometimes at night,” she said.

Chizanaga also said that not having a proper, functioning water and sanitation system exposed villagers to diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

“Before we received this borehole, pit latrines as well as hygiene education, we were vulnerable to a lot of diseases, especially diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

“This is so because people would go and defecate in the bushes and rivers; ironically, it is in the same rivers that we bathed in,” she said.

Tsitsi Ndlovu, a volunteer health promoter in Chivi District, added that unclean water and sanitation were the leading cause of child mortality in the district and other surrounding areas.

“Takaona nhamo nevana vaifa nekuti taisaziva pekutangira nekuda kwedambudziko rekushaya mvura nezvimbuzi. (We lost some children due to poor water and sanitation facilities, but it is now a thing of the past, thanks to the EU funded programme,” she said.

Ndlovu applauded the EU programme and added that health education imparted to villagers is now playing a significant role in their way of living.

“Now that we have a borehole and a hand washing facility in place, we can visit our toilets anytime of the day and wash our hands,” she said, adding that health education is proving to be the tonic to their better living standards.

Under (Chiwash), the IFRC and ZRCS significantly used community based approaches to construct 4 000 latrines and boreholes to improve access to water and hygienic facilities.

About 3 410 latrines were constructed across Chivi District together with 53 new boreholes, while a further 318 malfunctioning ones were rehabilitated.

Besides construction of latrines, drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes, over 250 school health masters were also trained, together with 200 latrine builders and nearly 400 water-point committees across the district.

Speaking during the 3rd EU Water Facility Programme handover ceremony at Maringire Business Centre recently, ZRCS national vice-president, Reuben Mkandla, said the Chiwash project was part of efforts to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals.

“We are motivated by the spirit of volunteering, and we want to help the country achieve the sustainable development goals,” he said.

Uli Jaspers, head of the IFRC Water and Sanitation Unit added: “Not only do we need to get the balance right between action on providing improved sanitation and access to safe water, but we also need to deliver water and sanitation programmes that are sustainable in the long haul.

“This entails a number of important components from community ownership to working closely with the government, and using the most appropriate and sustainable technology.”

Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister, Shuvai Mahofa, paid tribute to the ZRCS and its partners for helping to mitigate water shortages in Chivi and other districts.

“A total of 100 000 people in 400 communities in Chivi district will benefit from this Chiwash project and I am happy that the project targeted particularly vulnerable groups in our society such as those living with HIV and Aids, orphans and the elderly,’’ she said.

Since the project is in line with government policies and strategies for water and sanitation and other key development instruments such as the ZimAsset, Mahofa warned the communities not to vandalise the boreholes.

“I challenge the beneficiaries of the project to make good use of what you have received today,” she said.

The right to water and sanitation is the right of every Zimbabwean.

Accordingly, the EU together with the IFRC as well as the ZRCS should be applauded for protecting and providing this right.

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