By Fadzai Lee Midzi-Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
On 22 March 2020 we were celebrating world water day, acknowledging the importance of water.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic
and the climate change discourse, water remains a critical resource which is
getting scarce by the day yet key in preventing the spread of diseases. In
Africa water resources have been made scarce due to drought and poor wetland management.
In an era were most African countries are rapidly urbanising, water accessibility
comes as a great challenge for most people, Zimbabwe being no exception.
Governments have made efforts to improve service delivery although a lot stills
needs to be done including making the water potable.
Ensuring availability and
sustainable management of water and sanitation for all reads Sustainable Development
Goal (SDG) 6 which should be advanced especially that water remains a necessity
with or without viruses such as COVID-19. We are faced with a harsh reality of
poor water services especially the urban poor and the rural population who are
forced by circumstances to travel long distances in search of the precious
liquid. This means the burden of this virus falls heavily on women who are the
main actors in delivering SDG 6 at household level. In a month where we are
celebrating women let’s not forget their important role in preventing the
spread of this pandemic in our midst. Fervent calls have been made to
continuously empower women and such times of public health disaster are a wakeup
call for each one of us to do more. What
is perhaps, disheartening is to note that besides all the efforts being made to
sensitise people of this disease, there are people who still lack safe water,
sanitation and handwashing facilities.
In Zimbabwe the mining sector is anticipated
to contribute towards the achievement of the country’s upper middle-income economy
by 2030. In such a crisis, mining giants should be working tirelessly by
offering support in containing COVID-19. Recently the Global Fund donated USD25Million
to respond against Covid-19 .Transparency is key in
making sure that duty bearers are held accountable in handing such resources for
covid-19 preparedness and delivery of SDG 6. Organisations such as the Zimbabwe
Environmental Law Association (ZELA) are working tirelessly to promote
transparency and accountability in public revenue expenditure to enhance local
service delivery and citizen benefit. Zimbabwe has vast mineral deposits and
revenue generated from these must translate to agile responsiveness to
disasters drawing lessons learnt from the recent Cyclone Idai.
We must take time to
reflect on the mining affected communities who remain vulnerable to disasters
including the virus, especially those who were relocated to pave way for mining
operations but are still struggling with basic sanitation services. Dwindling
water supplies due to drought has also been a major setback for everyone.
According to Life Water ’s 10 facts about the world water crisis “In sub-Saharan Africa,
women and girls spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year collecting safe
water” these hours are literally going to increase due to the demand for water to
stop the spread of Covid-19 virus.
In a time of closure of
schools and public business, women are faced with a responsibility of making
sure that their children and families are protected from contracting the virus.
Burden continues to be placed on women who are expected to provide basic
services such as water especially in this critical public health disaster.
Young girls also bear the burden as they are expected to help their mothers. In
Shona they call this ‘’musha mukadzi” loosely translated, a home is established
because of a woman, cementing the role women play in delivering household
As we celebrate women
during this History month and beyond, we call on Governments to give women all
the support they need not forgetting lifting the burden on access to clean
water. Let’s not forget that an equal world is an enabled world, together we
can make this harsh reality a thing of the past for not only women but for
To everyone out there let’s do everything in
our capacity to protect ourselves and others against COVID-19.