Rural Matebeleland Relying on Unsafe Water Sources

By Nomalanga Makwelo

Access to safe water in rural areas, remains a challenge as many households continue to use unprotected water sources for drinking.

According to the Rural Livelihoods Assessment (RLA) 2020 report conducted by Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) , many households in Matebeleland North and South are at a great danger of contracting diseases as many families are accessing water from sources which are considered to be unsafe.

” 45 % of households in Mangwe district and 39% in Insiza , continue to access water from dams ,rivers and open streams which are prone to contamination. This is a cause for concern as surface water is considered unsafefor drinking if it is not treated properly.”

The report also indicates how the villagers , continue to struggle as they travel long distances to access water, with Matebeleland South recording the national highest proportion of households who travel 1km or more to access water.

“Nationally, there was an increase in the proportion of households travelling distances more than 1 km to the main water source; from 16% in 2019 to 20% in 2020. The highest proportion of households travelling distances more than 1 km was in Matabeleland South (33%) and lowest in Manicaland (9%). The increased distances to the main water source can be attributed to the breaking down of boreholes and drying up of most water sources in the rural areas, e.g. rivers, wells and boreholes due to poor rains experienced in 2019/2020 rain season ” , reads the statement .

The water problem in these provinces, also poses a great threat to the safety of women and girls of under the age of 15 with areas such as Tsholotsho ,Nkayi and Bubi reporting violence at water points.

Meanwhile another problem is that of open defecation which continues to dog the region .

” Binga (59.5%), Tsholotsho (59.5%) and Beitbridge (59.3%) had the highest proportion of households
practicing open defecation. All districts in Matabeleland North had over 40% of the households practicing open defecation. This picture of high open defecation in Matabeleland North has been consistently high and is worrisome. There is need for urgent action to reduce the proportion of households practicing open defecation , ” reads the statement

ZIMVAC however recommended that actions needed to be accelerated and scaled up to; Improve, strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems, Improve people’s livelihoods, and promote livelihoods diversification; Promote production and consumption of diversified foods to promote dietary diversity; Scale-up access of mechanisation to smallholder farmers to raise land and labour productivity; Extend and upgrade existing relief and stimulus packages to cushion the most vulnerable against the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to wreak havoc on countries

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