Media update for Right to Water Campaign
5 November 2019, Mabvuku– A right to water campaign meeting was held here on 5 November 2019. Residents expressed concerns on the acute water shortages, and complained that they have gone for a long time without adequate and consistent water supplies. The meeting was conducted using a focus group discussion in order for residents to express their experiences on the water services, bring out challenges and mapping the way forward. The focus group discussions was made up of residents drawn from Chizhanje, Kugarika Kushinga, Mabvuku, New Tafara and Old Tafara comprising of twelve men and forty five women. The Act Alliance, an international organisation, supported the meeting.
Residents expressed mixed feelings during the discussions. A majority of them felt that their constitutional right to water was being violated, while others said the residents should always pay for their water when it is delivered to them. Water is life and it has no substitute hence the availability of water is very crucial. Kugarika Kushinga and some parts of Old Tafara have gone for more than twenty years without receiving tap water, provided by the municipality. In Mabvuku, residents said those who reside in low-lying areas receive water frequently while those on higher ground have no chance of receiving water. Residents in Chizhanje V area said their water taps are symbolic and most of the taps are corroded. Residents said women and children are the most affected group with the state of water, as they have to look for other sources like community boreholes, which they spend four to five hours queuing to draw water.
To exacerbate the situation, women are now vulnerable to sexual and physical abuses. Most of the community boreholes are controlled by rowdy youths who have demonstrated total disrespect for women. Residents said the water has been privatised to an extent that they are being charged to draw water at community boreholes. In Mabvuku and Tafara, residents are now walking three to four kilometres to go and fetch water at unprotected springs known as chisipiti by local people. Residents believe that water at Gosden springs, located between Mabvuku and Tafara, is contaminated by sewerage spilling from Chizhanje Way. The sewer pipes in most of the households are burst and spilling all over the place. The residents narrated how they have been forced to use such contaminated sewer water to do their laundry, for bathing and flashing in their toilets. Women carry the burden of going to these springs at Gosden to fetch water for these domestic purposes, as they are responsible for sanitation and domestic chores at household level. It is evident from the experiences that there is gender inequality, which has to be addressed within the context of providing water and sanitation services to the Mabvuku and Tafara communities.
Action Point: Residents said the Central Government should chip in helping the local authorities to have long lasting solutions to curb the water crisis. Residents said boreholes are not a permanent solution but as for now, the Council should opt to drill more community boreholes in order to facilitate access to water to the majority of residents.
Conclusion: In view of the challenges of availability, accessibility, acceptability and the quality of water in eastern Harare, the HRT concludes that neither the Central Government nor the City of Harare are prepared to find a lasting solution to the water challenges. In the absence of social services like water, the majority of residents end up being exposed to diseases, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen in the communities.