Chitungwiza women face abuse at community boreholes

05 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Chitungwiza women face abuse at community boreholes Chitungwiza residents at celebrations to mark World Water Day.

Suburban

Chitungwiza residents recently narrated the ordeals and abuse they encounter while fetching for water at community boreholes in the town’s various suburbs.

Suburban Reporter

The residents were speaking at the joint World Water Day commemorations organised by the Community Water Alliance and the Women for Water Movement held in Chitungwiza.

Residents said women, girls and even boys were at the mercy of abusers who take advantage of their desperation for water for domestic use.

“As a result of the water crisis women, girls and even boys are being abused and raped while fetching water at community boreholes. We pray that the crisis is resolved so that we live in peace and safe from all forms of abuse in our community. We want to be able to fetch water from the community boreholes without fear of falling victim to abuse,” said a resident.

She said women bear the greater burden of the water crisis because they also have to fetch water for their spouses and children.

“We are at a disadvantage as women because we bear the burden of fetching water for our spouses and children who will be preparing to go to work and school. Sometimes the woman fetching the water also needs to go to work, making it a huge burden for her. We appeal to the authorities to address the water challenges,” said the resident.

Another resident said the water crisis in Chitungwiza is a decades-old problem that has exposed women to all sorts of vagaries.

“The water crisis dates back several years. In winter we have to carry braziers to light fires to keep ourselves warm while queuing for water at the community boreholes. We can even spend days away from home while we fetch water because one day will be for registering and the other day is for collecting the water. We wake up very early and leave our children sleeping on their own at home. Sometimes we are held up in the water queue and we fail to prepare our children for school.

“A while ago one woman fell sick while we were queuing at the community borehole.

“She suffered a stroke and she has not fully recovered.  She lives in Zengeza.  We all have different ailments and conditions that can be triggered by waiting for long periods in the queue. When we wake up in the early hours we are also at risk of being beaten by stray dogs. In fact, some women have been bitten while walking to the community boreholes.

“A child was burnt trying to make tea on a gas stove while the mother was queuing for water at the borehole. The challenges still persist. There is also unfairness at the water queues because those controlling the queue can tell you that you can only fetch water after so and so have done so despite being in the front in the queue. Those are some of the challenges we face,” she said.

Community Alliance Water national coordinator Hardlife Mudzingwa outlined the legal framework which does not allow municipalities to build their own water sources, leaving them to rely on the Zimbabwe National Water Authority. He said Chitungwiza does not have a water source of its own and gets it water supplies from the City of Harare just like the other local authorities close to Harare such as Norton Town Council, Ruwa Local Board and Epworth Local Board.

“At the moment they have two water treatment plants Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward.

“The design capacity of these two plants is 704 (mega litres of water) if they are operating at full throttle yet demand on a daily basis within the (Harare) Metropolitan Province is 1 200 mega litres. Even if the local authority (City of Harare) is given all the money it requires there will still be a shortage,” said Mr Mudzingwa.

He said Chitungwiza requires 70 mega litres a day on its own to meet water needs at a household level. More will be needed if businesses and industries in the town are included.

“What needs to be done for Chitungwiza particularly is to ensure that those who are responsible those for the construction of water reservoirs, particularly Muda Dam, and the accompanying water treatment plant play their role. The role of dam construction is not delegated to a local authority. The role of dam construction rests with Zinwa and the responsible Ministry,” said Mr Mudzingwa.

He said Chitungwiza Municipality once did a feasibility study for Muda Dam but the study was not accepted because it is not the local authority’s responsibility to conduct such studies let alone build dams.

Mr Mudzingwa said boreholes are not sustainable because continued drilling depletes the water table while the majority of the boreholes in Harare and Chitungwiza are contaminated as evidenced by recent cholera outbreaks.

Ms Caroline Mutimbanyoka director of Sprout Women Empowerment Trust and team leader for the Women for Water Movement said there was need for women countrywide to unite and fight their rights to access water for domestic use.

She said the event was meant to get women to speak with one voice on issues affecting them and approach authorities for redress as united force.

“Our issue really has mainly been that we don’t have our own water source in Chitungwiza yet our population continues to grow. We have been getting water from Harare which is hardly enough,” said Ms Mutimbanyoka.

Zengeza East Member of Parliament Mr Gabriel Chimbaira also spoke at the event and espoused the role of lawmakers in dealing with social issues such as water and the role of parliamentarians in development.

“As Member of Parliament we have a responsibility to represent our constituents and seek ways to help with some of the problems they are facing as communities.

“The role of an MP also includes making laws in Parliament and playing the oversight role over the executive (Government). Water problems are an issue in Chitungwiza.

“We get our water from Harare and Harare can only supply us after supplying its own residents.

“As your representatives we are lobbying the Government to help our council to build our own dam, Muda Dam so that we have our own water source.

“Members of Parliament also make use of the Constituency Development Fund for development and I have used the funds to drill community boreholes in some of our wards,” said Mr Chimbaira.

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