Population: 14.65 million
Poverty rate: 38.3%
After facing drought, food shortages, economic crisis, and now COVID-19, many low-income households are struggling to fulfil their basic needs. The World Bank estimates that an extra 1.3 million Zimbabweans have fallen into extreme poverty due to the pandemic and its disruption to livelihoods. In rural areas, increased climate volatility and extreme weather events threaten subsistence farmers, while less than 30 per cent of children have been able to continue with their education due to pandemic-related school closures.
A community achieves its clean water dream
This community in Zimbabwe has achieved its dream of installing a clean and safe water source, which has also become a piece of vital sanitation infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mutoko community, which includes four villages, 106 households, local businesses, and over 1,000 students, used to rely on a borehole that frequently broke down. Villagers were forced to drink from streams and shallow wells, putting children in particular at high risk of contracting water-borne diseases.
Climate change has also had a devastating impact on this community, with water sources drying up earlier than usual in recent years. Women and girls were walking over two hours a day to fetch clean water for their families, while teachers and students spent valuable time out of lessons queuing for water.
When water is scarce, people also tend to use as little water as possible to wash their hands, putting the community at risk of diarrheal diseases as well as COVID-19.
AOP worked with Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) and the District Development Fund to establish the new solar-powered water system, which has a 10,000-litre tank supplying four villages and two schools.
Taps are now within 500 metres of all households, which has reduced trekking distances for women, while teachers and students can spend more time in the classroom. The community has also minimised the risk of disease transmission.
“Before the intervention, walking long distances uphill with a 20-litre bucket on our heads left us physically exhausted and emotionally spent,” said Joyce, 12, who is Head Girl of her primary school.
“The project significantly changed the life of local people, especially girls, as they do a lot of household chores, including fetching water, as compared to their male counterparts,” said Joyce’s principal. “The energy is now directed to school lessons and other livelihood activities.”
The community has also elected a water committee, comprised of 60 per cent women, to manage day-to-day operations of the system and look after maintenance and repairs when needed.
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