Water and Sanitation
Case Study: Zimbabwe
Gambara Water Point, Mutoko, Zimbabwe
Mutoko is located in the north of Zimbabwe close to the border with Mozambique. The terrain in this location is flat and rainfall is low. During the dry season the area is hot, dry and dusty. Safe, clean portable drinking water is in short supply in Mutoko. People rely on boreholes which are provided by the local government water departments. However the boreholes often breakdown and the water departments struggle to maintain them with the few resources (funding and staffing) that are available to them. When the borehole becomes non-functional people must walk long distances in order to fetch water from shallow wells or seasonal water courses. From these sources water can become very scarce as the dry season progresses and is often dirty and unsafe to drink.
This was the type of water that the community living near the Gambara Water Point were drinking before AFAP partner organisation Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) came to make an assessment of broken water points in the Mutoko area. Michael who is the chairman of the newly created Gambara Water Point Committee tells of how things were for his community after the borehole broke down. He explained that people had to walk three to five kms and back to fetch water from shallow wells in the area. This had quite an impact on the community especially the women. Michael explained that because of the long distances that women had to walk, they had little time left in the day to cook, do laundry and work in their fields. It was also more difficult for the men to find water for their livestock.
All this has now changed, with funds provided by AFAP through AusAid, CTDT has been able to repair the borehole and train a water committee comprising of seven men and women from the local community to make sure that there will be enough money and technical expertise that if the borehole breaks down again, it can be quickly repaired. Water committee members were elected by the community. According to Michael, members were elected because of their willingness to give time as volunteers and their commitment to serve on the committee. They have all received training from CTDT on management of the borehole and one person has been trained in pump maintenance. Community members pay a small sum of money to the committee so that spare parts can be bought when necessary and to maintain the fencing. Michael says that now people are very happy, they have plenty of safe clean water for drinking, bathing and washing their clothes, and their livestock are well watered. The women in the community no longer have to spend half the day fetching water so can spend time doing the chores necessary for maintaining their families and their fields. It has made a big difference to their lives.
The inability to access clean water is a problem faced by many of the poorest nations in the world. The use of unsafe water can lead to the contraction of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid. In the past year AFAP has supported WASH projects in Timor Leste, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.
In Timor Leste, AFAP’s partner Timor Aid has been working on the rehabilitation of nineteen boreholes in the districts of Cova Lima and Suai. The nineteen boreholes had stopped producing safe water for the villagers and required urgent repairs. However, the Government was unable to provide any service or maintenance and the communities themselves did not have the skills to maintain them. As part of the rehabilitation of the water points and in an effort to bring the facilities up to an acceptable standard nineteen pumps were repaired, twelve fences around the boreholes were mended in order to keep livestock out away from the water points and nine concrete platforms were also repaired to keep water points clean. Community management groups were also formed and trained to look after the water points in order to maintain the safe drinking water in the future. AFAP will continue to support this small WASH initiative in the next year with another eleven water point rehabilitations planned.
AFAP has also been working on the rehabilitation of boreholes in Zimbabwe with our partner the Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT). In the past year sixteen bush pumps were rehabilitated to 100% functionality. The rehabilitated pumps have enabled an additional two thousand two hundred and fifty seven children and two thousand five hundred and two adults to access a clean and portable water source. In Malawi AFAP’s partner Concern Universal also worked on the rehabilitation of six water points. The water points also received new aprons and new spare parts before having their pumps reset.
AFAP also support projects that promote community ownership and management of safe water points. In Malawi, AFAP has been working with Concern Universal (CU) on training water point committees in community-based management. The water point committees are comprised of local community members and are responsible for the maintenance of village water points. In the past year eight committees, each containing ten members, were trained in community-based management. Since the training, the water point committees have established their own operation and maintenance funds for the future rehabilitation of their water points. In Mozambique, CU also provided training to local communities on safe sanitation and hygiene practices. The training sessions examined the current hygiene practices of the community and suggested ways in which unsafe practices could be improved. Safe water mechanisms such as ‘TIP-TAP’ hygienic hand washing systems (easy to build using locally sourced materials) are promoted within the training sessions.
In Zimbabwe CTDT also worked with local community members to design a public latrine intended to serve the wider community including previously excluded groups such as people with disabilities and the elderly. The latrines have been approved by the Ministry of Health and are currently in the construction phase. CU has also been working on the construction of family latrines for vulnerable groups in Mozambique. To increase the sustainability of the latrines community members are provided with the skills to both construct and manage the latrines prior to receiving one. Through these comprehensive practices the immediate and long term needs of the communities are met.
Similarly AFAP has been working with communities in the Solomon Islands to identify their priorities through the work we are supporting under the Bridging the Gap program. A number of communities identified improved sanitation as a priority, so building latrines has been a part of the work undertaken by AFAP this year in the Solomons.