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Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeNewsGendered Impact of Water Scarcity: A Threat to Health and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe

Gendered Impact of Water Scarcity: A Threat to Health and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe

Social justice advocacy group ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) has expressed concern over a myriad of challenges that have heightened water demand and strained already scarce water resources and infrastructure leaving women and girls more vulnerable in the country.

The challenges include rapid urbanization, escalating global temperatures due to climate change, recurrent droughts, cholera outbreaks, and the persistent El Niño phenomenon.

In a message to commemorate the World Water Day under the theme “Leveraging Water for Peace,” ActionAid Zimbabwe Country Director, Joy Mabenge highlighted the severity of the situation.

“The climate-induced humanitarian crises, compounded by events like El Niño, have severely impacted communities’ ability to secure their livelihoods, especially those reliant on rain-fed agriculture and livestock. Clean water has become a commodity, leaving poor communities deprived of this critical resource,” said Mabenge

Exodus Munkuli, a Sexual Reproductive Health Rights activist based in Binga, also highlighted the dire circumstances faced by women and girls.

“In the absence of water, women and girls suffer the most. Water is essential for various aspects of their lives, including menstruation, childbirth, and household chores. The burden of water collection falls disproportionately on women, often in unsafe conditions,” Munkuli said

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Women’s rights activist and team leader for the Women for Water Movement, Caroline Mutimbanyoka expressed concern over the politicization of water.

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“Asking for water, a basic right, has become a political statement. Women endure long queues and sometimes face assault to access water, making it a women’s crisis,” said Mutimbanyoka

Diana Harahwa, a youth activist, highlighted how patriarchy exacerbates women’s vulnerabilities, particularly in areas like Mbire, Hwange, Chiredzi, Victoria Falls, and Kariba districts, where water scarcity intensifies human-wildlife conflict as both compete for the same limited resource.

Given the gravity of the situation, Mabenge called on the government and other stakeholders to put measures that address the challenges and ensure inclusive recovery efforts.

“Access to adequate, clean, and safe water is a fundamental human right. The Zimbabwean government, with support from civil society organizations, and ensuring the full participation of all rights holders, should implement measures for the guaranteed provision of water and sanitation facilities. This includes involving every stakeholder in decision-making processes related to water provision,” he said

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