Gawa villagers petition Council over water challenges

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…as 150 households share one borehole

…water woes exposing women and girls to GBV

Sithabile A Ndlela

Gokwe South Villagers in wards 20 and 32 of the Gawa area have petitioned Gokwe South Rural District Council over water challenges that have continuously affected villagers, forcing women to bear the brunt as they travel long distances to fetch water, this publication can reveal.

Reports reaching this publication state that this challenge has emanated for quite a while now, and it only came to light when villagers raised their concerns during a duty bearer engagement meeting held in Gawa by the Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe-Africa (UDACIZA) recently, before deciding on petitioning the Rural District Council over the matter.

The water crisis has persisted in Gawa village for years, and the villagers were unaware of where they can render their problems. This challenge has also resulted in the abuse of young women and girls who are exposed to violent males in the area.

“In Kasamara there is a borehole but the challenge is that it is too far. Secondly, there are two villages that share this borehole, so if we go early in the morning to fetch water we might get it around 10 am after about two to three hours of waiting in the queue. Of the two villages, you find out that there are about 150 households that are sharing one borehole. Some end up going to fetch water in some streams that our livestock use, and the water there is not good for consumption but others prefer to boil than stand in long queues. So we are appealing to the Rural Council to assist us with at least one more borehole so that each village might have its own borehole,” said a female identified as Mai Mawire.

“In Mutero area, we are facing water challenges, we are actually using a well that belongs to one of our fellow villagers. However, the well is slowly giving up and it is getting unsafe to use that well each day because it might collapse. Still, on that same issue, the water that we fetch there is not even enough for our families because we get one bucket in the morning and one in the evening, so it is not sufficient enough to carter for our families,” said another woman identified as

The water woes in the Gawa area have caused a lot of distress amongst women in the village who suffer the daily struggle of going to fetch water every morning in these cold temperatures. Furthermore, reported cases of rape against the girl child have surfaced and this has resulted in the villagers petitioning the Rural Council over the issue.

“The community members under Gokwe South, Wards 20 and 32 are writing to seek your assistance in the drilling of boreholes for the community in the above-named Wards. The boreholes would help mitigate challenges being faced by women and young girls who have to walk long distances to fetch water at the nearest water point.

 

“The shortage of water has been attributed to some cases of gender-based violence.  Some cases of rape are being linked to women and girls walking long distances, through forests to get water at the nearest possible borehole.

“The drilling of boreholes would assist the community members in coming up with income-generating projects such as irrigation schemes, and vegetable gardens, and assist in providing water for our livestock. These livelihood projects would also assist in meeting the government’s goals of promoting sustainable economic development, especially for rural communities.

“We are looking at three (3) boreholes in Ward 32 and two (2) boreholes in Ward 20. The siting of the boreholes can be done in consultation with the community. The community has tentatively selected a number of sites for the boreholes and the technical guidance of your department would be highly appreciated.

“The community is very hopeful that your office will assist in addressing the issue of the water challenges being faced by the Gawa community in Wards 20 and 32. We, the Gawa Community wait to hear from your office at your earliest convenience,” read part of the petition letter received by this publication.

Speaking in an interview with this reporter, the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denomination (ZHOCD) District Coordinator, Bishop Edmond Munengiwa said that some of the villagers in wards 20 and 32 never had boreholes ever since the villages were set up, and people from these villages are suffering a lot along with their livestock because water is a challenge.

“People from Svunurai village never had a borehole ever since the village was formed, but the village next to Svunurai which is Tamwaika has three boreholes. If this borehole drilling was done fairly the boreholes could have been shared equally by both these villages because Svunurai village is suffering a lot due to this water crisis.

“People from wards 20 and 32, for instance, Svunurai village walk eight kilometers and Makoko Village people also walk about eight to twelve kilometers to their nearest river which is Sengwa, where they fetch flowing water or at the next dam where they share this water with their livestock,” said Munengiwa.

Gone are the days when the adage, ‘usaita sewabva kuGokwe’ (do not act like a person from Gokwe) was used by the public to mock Gokwe villagers for lacking the know-how of life circumstances says Munengiwa. He said that now the community is knowledgeable on how things must be done and through the petition they have selected a number of sites for the boreholes.

“Through the project done by the ZHOCD in Gokwe South, the community now has knowledge of what should be done, and they have even selected some cites where they want their boreholes to be cited. The citing of boreholes can be done in consultation with the community.

“We sent the petition letter to the Rural Council requesting for boreholes that are being said they are from the Presidential office, and we are still waiting for their response because they said they will address the issue during their district meeting,” said Munengiwa.

Efforts to get a response from District Coordinator Cleotas Pfekecha regarding the petition were fruitless as he did not respond to the messages sent to him by this reporter before publication.

The Gawa wad 20 and 32 villagers wait for a day when the water woes in their area will be solved so that women and girls are not at risk from abusers.


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