By Tsitsi Wutawunashe
Improving Access to Water in Rural Communities #WorldWaterDay
March 22, 2021
As we commemorate the International Day for water, we remember its value and that “it is the driving force of all nature” as noted by one Leonardo da Vinci. However, it is saddening to note how water resources continue to face extreme threat due to climate change, increasing populations and pollution due to improper dumping of waste. The water crisis is a reality - globally 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and nearly 850,000 people die every year from lack of access to good water, sanitation, and hygiene. In Zimbabwe, access to safe water remains a challenge in both urban and rural areas. This is evidenced by thousands of women and school-aged children who sometimes spend 8 - 9 hours at crowded boreholes and wells looking for the precious commodity.
The severe water crisis is also undermining the fight against the COVID19 pandemic as it is affecting peoples continuous and affordable access to safe water across the country. The theme for this year’s World Water Day, “Valuing Water” has come at such an opportune time as this calls for everyone to use this resource responsibly and in a sustainable manner. Institutions need to join hands and support programmes that help to improve access to safe, clean and potable water to everyone.
With support from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programmes (GEF SGP) in Zimbabwe, UNDP has made important strides in supporting community-based initiatives which are improving access to water in various areas. In Shurugwi, the Local Initiatives & Development Agency (LID) has supported communities in Chitora by protecting 9 wetlands covering 237 hectares. This has improved the groundwater recharge and communities are using the water for irrigation, livestock production, aquaculture and small livestock projects. The programme is also supporting the drilling of boreholes that are solar powered and in one of the villages called Vimbai, 42 households are now connected to a piped water scheme.
The Fombe project in Mudzi has put a solar powered submersible pump in Gairezi river. After years of drought and hunger they are now able to produce and harvest various crops for their own consumption and sale to neighbouring villages in Mozambique.
All the projects highlighted above showcase the importance of improving access to water for communities and the value it has on their day to day lives!