Community Water Alliance takes note of the national lock down for 21 days which was announced by President ED Mnangagwa. The same sentiments were shared by different political actors in Zimbabwe prior to this announcement. It is therefore the sentiments shared by major political players in Zimbabwe.
Whilst the decision of political actors is meant for the common good of the nation, particular attention should be given to access to potable water. The lock down mean that families will be confined to households and the burden on shoulders of those whole roles and responsibilities are relegated to household chores will be heavy.
To ease the burden on women and young people who are confined by patriarchy to non-paying household chores of fetching water, the lock down should be complemented by efforts to ensure availability and accessibility to quality potable water.
At the moment women are still queuing at public boreholes within suburbs and that has increased their vulnerability to COVID 19. These public boreholes have no sanitizers. Women are sharing handles of public boreholes without any sanitizers used. The queues at public boreholes are not in tandem with the social distancing strategy because of business as usual behaviour as well as lack of critical information.
Community Water Alliance implore government and all partners to undertake the following:
1) Ensure sanitizers are available at public water points.
2) Engage and train water point committees on social distancing when queuing and maintaining good hygiene at boreholes. Borehole handles need to have proper and frequent application of sanitizers.
3) Civic education so that the behaviour of business as usual around public water points is changed. In this context Government is implored to open space for operation of civic players and NGOs. The lock down should not be used as an excuse to close civic space.
4) Preparation of a shared message card for all stakeholders to use on information dissemination.
It is the wish of the Alliance that potable water should be accessed at the tap. Beyond COVID 19 pandemic, government at all tiers should treat the issue of access to water as a national priority. It is during difficult times like these where the reality of the decade long water crisis finds us wanting.
Interventions and implementation of lock down should therefore not be blind to gender and realities of water & sanitation challenges facing citizens.
Lastly CWA advise citizens to practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary movements, practice hygiene by washing hands regularly and sanitizing.
Source: Community Water Alliance