Zimbabwe: Manyame RDC – Roll Back Climate Change

Date: July 18, 2018
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The villagers in Seke district had over 3 000 households who had suffered from lack of clean water supply and sanitation. The schools and the community at large had undergone some of the unheard human miseries due to unreliable rainfalls and droughts. Most of the rivers in the area were seasonal, an indication that there was no constant water supply. Women and children had to travel long distances in search of water so the drilling of boreholes was meant to lessen that burden. The community was generally at the mercy of the Creator since the cleanliness of drinking water was not assured. After observing the situation Manyame Rural District Council ventured into an annual project of drilling boreholes in each of the 21 wards in Seke district. The council adopted that project by involving the community as a sustainable development project as well as creating employment for the local community.

Poor hygiene and risk of diseases like cholera which claimed the lives of many in Zimbabwe especially in Seke district in 2008 was another factor that led to the drilling of boreholes. The main reason for contracting these diseases was that water was scarce during that period but the fact that water was needed for drinking and cleaning remained there. The problem was that the water was not available the people ended up using bush toilet systems and some of used lived in unhygienic conditions thus increased the risk of people contracting diseases.

The projects set out to provide a source of clean and safe water for the community thereby reducing the risk of catching water born diseases like cholera and typhoid. The process would create employment opportunities for the community at the same time economically empowering the people and encouraging them to be involved in sustainable development projects. The recruitment drive would be based on affording equal job opportunities to both males and females as a way to reduce gender based violence. An improvement on food capacity and living standards through the facilitation of a better and possible friendly environment for commercial agriculture would be possible. The availability of water would enable the growing of perishables like tomatoes and vegetables which when sold could improve standards of living for the entire community.

Having realised the gap in equality matters as a council, in conjunction with stakeholders, people were mobilized in ward 13, to form and discuss the water and drought issues. At those meetings people were educated on empowerment, entrepreneurial activities as well as the importance of self-governance. Drilling of boreholes was initiated by the council to redress the water crisis in the communities. There were community meetings with all stakeholders from the health department, Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the community at large. Responsible departments came together with the community and began carrying out activities .Surveyors visited the areas with EMA and Health departments also present. Activities were carried out with the community being involved and providing much of the labour force. There was massive community participation.

There were 2 000 (59%) direct women beneficiaries and 1 412 (41%) direct men beneficiaries from the project making it a total of 3 412 direct beneficiaries. For indirect beneficiaries there were 3 600 (64%) female and 2 060 (36%) male beneficiaries. There were 9 080 (57%) female and 6 720 (43%) male online beneficiaries. Altogether there were 24 872 beneficiaries made up by 14 872 (59%) female and 10 192 (41%) male beneficiaries. On budget the local authority had an allocation of $28 000. The EMA and ZINWA teams worked on the development of the concept plan that guided the council on the planning exercise. The above 2 government departments contributed on the expertise department and were involved in the close monitoring and supervision of activities. The council allocated sanitary landfill at Guzha $10 000, refuse collection $5 200, tree growing programmes $5 500, fire awareness campaigns $2 300 and the vulnerable groups agriculture support had $5 000. The local authority paid all the community members who worked with EMA and ZINWA for the entire project.

On monitoring and evaluation of the project, surveys were used to monitor the project and the progresses of the project. Surveyors focussed on maintaining the standards of the project and managed all the activities which were carried out at the site. The local authority was interested in having lots of women recruited during the implementation period so as to expose them to the practical activities. Interviews were carried out in ward 13 to assess the impact of the water and sanitation to human lives as the project progressed. Individuals were consulted whilst checking the progress of the project. Stakeholders were engaged to direct contact with both the council and the community. Various visits were made during community meetings and to check the progress of the project. They were used to observe the operations and to assess if the project was serving its intended purpose which was to afford people with clean water. Observers could see the true intentions of the people.

The project had been hindered by a number of challenges such as financial constraints, absence of advanced and comprehensive planning, community ignorance, resistance by the community and reluctance by the community to participate. Some consciousness meetings helped diffuse the tension. Lack of resources to carry out activities had been a major blow in drilling boreholes .The council was in economic turmoil following the economic meltdown in the country .Inadequate funds had slowed down the project completion as the council had other commitments to fulfill, therefore the budget was constrained .That reduced the pace at which the drilling of boreholes was carried out. The council partnered with other stakeholders such Health department, EMA and the community in raising resources to drill boreholes. The absence of advanced and comprehensive planning has also hindered the project .There was lack of advanced technical know how to execute the project. Limited exposure to plan properly, ignorance and resistance from the community were also been the major blows. Awareness campaigns were been carried out in the community thus educating the masses about the importance of water and health to the people. The campaigns proved to be effective as the community later became very cooperative.

The council empowered the women and youths by reducing the distance travelled to fetch water, educated them on sanitation and health, enabled them to carry out sustainable economic activities such as market gardening and promoted women’s participation in governance. The involvement of health departments in community meeting increased women’s knowledge on sanitation and health hence that reduced disease outbreaks and promoted clean up campaigns. Women had been empowered through their participation and involvement in local governance. Women were promoted to higher and influential positions during the implementation stage of the project and that boosted their confidence.  Men played a major role in ensuring gender equality through their involvement in economic projects such as market gardening. Men provided financial support for women to grow perishables such as vegetables and onions which led to improved standards of living and enhanced gender relations. For example, in Ward 13 market gardening had been done by both men and women and that reduced gender based violence and improved cordial relations between spouses. Men had also been involved in health, women’s rights and gender equality awareness campaigns in the district giving evidence of their support. Men had partnered with women in promoting council and government policies in Seke district .Men had been involved in crafting community agendas and offered to provide voluntary labour services especially youths fight economic hardships within the community. Men had been involved in rehabilitation of markets as evidenced at Guzha market place.

Dynamics at household level had been noted as women were now involved in decision making in the family. Historically, men dictated everything which had to be done in their families but currently women gave their views on pertinent family issues. Women had been empowered through education and campaigns hence they had been exposed to global issues therefore making effective decisions for sustainable economic development.

Exposure of women to modern advancement systems and women’s rights had changed power relations at household levels as men complied with women on their reproductive rights. Women had the right to state the number of children they should have. Women and men shared the same responsibilities economically, socially and politically hence a shift from the historical belief which gave men more power over women. Women had changed the social setup through economic empowerment and had competed with men in activities which were male dominated showing women’s ability that they were also capable.

Replication of projects could be very easy to emulate. Community based participatory approach was effective and efficient when dealing with sustainable economic development issues because people appreciated more when they were involved from the planning and implementation stages. People would ensure proper care and maintenance of the assets thus promoting cordial relation and development at grassroots level. That had been applied through community engagement and that promoted sustainability of projects. Allowing community leaders to manage and supervise the resource would improve the community’s ownership spirit as they felt that they would be recognized and be owners of the projects.  Sourcing of grants and loans to help the community in their projects also promoted the sustenance of the project.

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