Women in Zaka Ward 19 make strides towards realization of SDG 6…..demand access to clean water
| Access to clean water is an inalienable right that can substantially reduce the global burden of disease particularly in rural areas where vulnerable groups such as women and girls travel for long distances to access water. Sustainable Development Goal 6 provides for clean water and sanitation. This important goal calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. Added to this, the Convention on the Elimination of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), sets out an agenda to end discrimination against women, and explicitly references both water and sanitation within its text. Article 14(2)(h) of CEDAW provides: “States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right: … (h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communication” Section 77 of the Zimbabwean constitution also provide for the right to safe, clean and potable water. |
In pursuit of the right to water, Kutatarika Community Accountability Action Team (CAAT), a women led group from Zaka ward 19 that was established with the assistance of Heal Zimbabwe conducted a collaborative platform (nhimbe/ilima). The CAAT mobilized the community to fence a community borehole on 17 July 2019. The collaborative platform was conducted with the mandate of fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. The collaborative platform brought various stakeholders such as Village heads, Village Health workers, and Borehole committee members as well as community members to discuss the importance of safe water. In her address during the collaborative neutral platform, Kutatarika CAAT Chairperson, Mrs. Rosemary Mubariri highlighted the importance of clean water to the community in the prevention of communicable diseases as it also alleviates the burden for women from travelling long distances to get water. “This borehole is critically essential to us as women in Chiro, Bare and Madzivire Villages. Before the borehole was sunk, women from our villages would spend more time looking for water for our families. This did not only affect our sexual reproductive health rights alone but reduced our participation in important community meetings both as active participants or effective duty bearers. Hence we want to ensure that we spearhead programs that safeguard our community borehole, as it helps eliminating structural causes of women’s low participation in community development programs,” she said. Village Head Chiro also commended the work of the CAAT and highlighted that as one of the leaders he was going to organize a meeting with the borehole Committee, the Councillor and the Department for Agriculture to look into women’s suggestion on the need to allocate a small arable land for women’s vegetable gardening. Village Health Worker, Mrs Tsitsidzashe Tongoimba also highlighted that she was going to engage the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in ensuring that Kutatarika CAAT is continuously supported in their effort to generate maximum benefits from the borehole. The nhimbe was attended by a total of fifty community members.
The platform was crucial in that it afforded community members an opportunity to appreciate the need to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, especially after infected animals drink directly from the borehole. During the nhimbe, women raised pertinent issues which they wanted the Borehole Committee to put in place as a way of safeguarding the people’s right to potable water. Some of these issues include the need to protect water contamination and vandalism. The CAAT also took the opportunity to conscientize communities on the importance of ensuring that women participate as equals with men in all community development processes and governance positions. Participants also noted that water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact on food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for vulnerable groups. To improve sanitation and access to safe drinking water, participants resolved that there is need for a collective management of freshwater ecosystems for animals and sanitation facilities on a local level.
A CAAT is a group of women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers.CAAT members have been trained in Community social accountability, governance and democracy.