Tsholotsho North Social Accountability team priorities right to water

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In a move that is aimed at improving access to water, a Social Accountability team trained by Heal Zimbabwe in Tsholotsho North ward 5 has stepped up its efforts in promoting the right to water. The right to water is one of the human rights that are provided for under various international instruments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings. Under international human rights law, water is implicitly and explicitly protected as a human right.

The right to water entitles everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 also provides for clean water and sanitation. It is against such a background that the Social Accountability team conducted a dialogue meeting  on 14 December 2019 aimed at discussing water shortages in the area that have been necessitated by poor rains and siltation in Mkhethwa dam. The dialogue was attended by members from the dam committee, Disaster Risk Reduction Committee (DRRC), Traditional leaders as well as representatives from the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE).

It came out more prominently during the dialogue that climate change was now a serious threat to food security in Tsholotsho hence the need for a multi-stakeholder dialogue meeting that creates a platform for knowledge sharing as well as mitigation strategies. The availability of water for society and agriculture had become increasingly uncertain in the area. Reduced rainfall and increasing variation in its distribution in time and space negatively influences the productivity of agriculture and livestock. Participants also noted that incessant droughts and limited government social protection has fuelled conflicts within the community. Some of these conflicts have manifested in the form of competition over available water sources among others.

The dam committee reported that a private company has been engaged to scoop the dam and a total of 24000 South African rands was needed for the exercise. As part of raising the funds, the dialogue meeting identified various sources of funds that are at the disposal of the community such as resources from the Rural District Council (RDC) meant for devolution and development, Constituency Development Fund (CDF), council taxes as well as proceeds from campfire. As part of resolutions, the dialogue meeting elected a six member committee comprised of Village heads, DRRC members, campfire members and social accountability members. The task of the committee will be to engage a range of stakeholders such as the District Administrator, RDC, Campfire as well as the local Legislator so as to unlock funds for the dam scoop. It was unanimously agreed that the community would convene at a later date to receive feedback on the outcome of the engagements.

The Social Accountability dialogues are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s advocacy initiative that seeks to promote social cohesion and improve service delivery within local communities. Cohesive communities help establish harmony so that people are tolerant of each other and live together in peace. Added to this, the dialogues also seek to bring the voices of citizens into governance, enabling citizens to monitor and provide feedback on the delivery of services, and helping to build trust between rights holders and duty bearers.    
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