Statement On the Commemoration of 16 Days Against Gender Based Violence: Restore Water Supplies to Create Safe Spaces for Women, Girls

The Combined Harare Residents Association joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

We take great cognizance of the need to create safe spaces for women and girls around the world.

CHRA is however concerned over the erratic water situation in Harare that has led to victimization of women and girls.

Due to their societal roles, women and girls bear the brunt of water shortages and quite often have to walk long distances, and sometimes during the night to search for water.

This has exposed them to physical as well as verbal abuse at water points such as boreholes where there is a sharp increase in WATER WARS.

Cases of rape/sexual abuse as well as physical abuse of women and girls at water points in Harare are on the increase. The capital has turned out to be an unsafe space for women and girls due to the continued water shortages.

In some cases, unruly males controlling water points in Harare are also demanding sexual favors and this is also a pointer to how the water situation in Harare has left women and girls exposed to abuse.

We are concerned that if the water situation in Harare is not addressed, the cases will continue to rise. Restoring constant and consistent water supplies in Harare means restoring women and girls’ dignity as well as creating safe spaces for them.

In this respect, we implore the government to invest in restoring Harare’s water infrastructure as well as to invest in the building of more water sources since Harare’s main water supply, Lake Chivero has been overwhelmed.

We take note of the government’s commitment to build the Kunzvi Dam, which is supposed to augment Harare’s water supply but we however would like to point out that the $259 Million allocated for the project in the national budget is a paltry amount.

Dam building is a capital project that requires serious investment and commitment from duty bearers.

As the world commemorates the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender based violence, CHRA takes this opportunity to remind the Zimbabwean government of its obligation under international law and the constitution, to protect the right to water and sanitation.

In 2010, the Zimbabwean government voted for the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the right to water and sanitation and as CHRA, we implore the government to honor this obligation.

We are also concerned about the continued allocation of paltry amounts for the procurement of water treatment chemicals to the City of Harare as this has also worsened the water situation in the capital.

CHRA Recommends the Following:

  • Government should declare the water crisis a national disaster and open up to humanitarian assistance
  • Immediate interventions to stop construction on and destruction of wetlands
  • Urgent institutional reform in Harare City Council and development of clear accountability systems to ensure fiscal discipline
  • Prioritization of construction of water sources eg Kunzvi and Musami dams
  • Improved waste management practices to reduce pollution of the primary water source, Lake Chivero.

As CHRA, we will be embarking on a campaign to document cases of abuse of women at water points with a view of assisting the victims as well as bringing the perpetrators to book.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

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