Water resources

[Anonymous].  Submitted.  Nigeria: putting rainwater to maximum use (English).


Nango Yusufu, 41, was desperate like many Jos residents practicing urban agriculture: he could not earn enough from his farm to meet even basic family needs. Nango became one of the urban farmers maximizing bio-retention areas or rain gardening in rock-free neighbourhoods since the bulk of Jos land mass is covered by extrusive crystalline rocks. His best time for maximum cropping is often the rainy season. It is only during this period that he could grow limited cultivable land. But whatever he harvested was soon eaten. Another period of scarcity would follow until the next rains.

In 2004, the Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) initiated a project to promote intensive Bio-retention gardening. The project also involved the turning of rock pavement into an area of native plants and vegetation to help lessen urban storm water runoff, as well as using these rock pavements as catchments for the rainwater runoff. The project taught farmers new gardening techniques and helped them harvest and store rainwater in small on-farm ditches. Through the training he received, Nango learned to keep his soil fertile by feeding it with organic matter, including manure from his cattle and household waste. By collecting, retaining and using rainwater, he realized that he could also grow vegetables for sale during the dry season when prices were high.

With help from RAWDP, Nango built two small-farm reservoir that he used to collect the hitherto wasted water runoff (from the rocks) during the rainy season. Today, using water from the reservoir for irrigation, he grows maize, cassava, groundnut, cabbages, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Both the animals and crops are benefiting from the available water. Other farmers have emulated Nango and are replicating his initiatives. It is also common scenes in Jos to see animals drinking from these ponds and people using the water from such ponds to do laundry, wash cars, concrete for construction and other useful activities. This development has reduced the stress on municipal water infrastructure in Jos. There is current moves by environmental groups in the City to propose a bill to the Plateau State House of Assembly on ways of making water from this alternate sources compulsory in construction and other activities.


Jos is the capital of Plateau State, Nigeria. Jos is a City on a Plateau in the centre of Northern Nigerian and is a great hydrological centre or water shed with radial pattern of drainage in which rivers like Hadeija, Kaduna, Sokoto etc take their sources. The highest point of Jos Plateau is Shere Hills (1650m). Jos Plateau is massively made up of volcanic rocks. The annual rainfall in Jos varies from 131.75cm – 146cm. Highest rainfall is usually recorded in July.

Jos has a population of 1.2million people (1991 Census) who inhabit its total land area of 1322 square kilometers. Its near temperate climate makes it an ideal location for holidays. It presently boasts of a coterie of westerners and many Nigerians from other remote parts of Nigeria. It is a cosmopolitan urban area. The Plateau State Water Board (PSWB) has the mandate to supply water to the urban and semi-urban areas of the State, especially Jos. PSWB presently have a total of 4 schemes in the City, having a combined design capacity of 101mld and serving approximately 728,000 people. The schemes have a total of 15,700 connections and an estimated pipe length of 1,308km.

Usually, water supply from PSWB is irregular. Most residents are under-served hence source their water from water vendors (who often source their water from available boreholes and local streams), rainwater harvests and remote streams. Due to the cost of water and the difficulty of getting it, Jos is still far from the UN-Habitat quantity availability prescription of at least 20 litres per person per day. In Jos, water supply takes an undue proportion of an average household’s income i.e. more than 10% and with excessive effort and time. Many residents spend more than one hour a day for the prescribed 20litres per person per day. As at today, more than 54% of Jos population is lacking access to clean drinking water and a greater than this number lack access to improved sanitation and hygiene.

Growing urbanization and inequality in economic distribution in Jos has continued to constrain people’s access to a decent and healthy living. Most consumers cannot afford an economic rate for water supply because they lack adequate income to afford it. An immediate fall-out of the severe water situation in Jos is the harvesting of rainwater mostly through the use of structural measures eg. terrace, bunds, banks etc, channeling and storing same in concrete or rock ‘coated’ dams, ponds and pans etc. These ponds are today of great benefit to a greater number of the population who resort to it for their daily water needs especially the washing of motor cars, motorcycles, engineering construction, farm irrigation, laundry and animal husbandry etc.

Methods and results

The use of structural measures as a water conservation technology in Jos primarily include any of the following;

  • Diversion ditch/cut off drain: a graded channel with a supportive ridge or bank on the lower side. It is constructed across a slope and designed to intercept surface runoff and convey it safely to an outlet or waterway.
  • Retention/infiltration ditches: large ditches designed to catch and retain all incoming runoff and hold it until it infiltrates into the ground etc.

The methodologies being used in this study are basically those of the World Overview of Conservation Approach and Technologies (WOCAT). WOCAT, a Bern, Switzerland applied research organization has the vision of local soil and water conservation (SWC) knowledge and experience shared and used globally. Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) in the context of WOCAT is defined as: activities at the local level which maintain or enhance the productive capacity of the land in areas affected by or prone to degradation. SWC includes prevention or reduction of soil erosion, compaction and salinity; conservation or drainage of soil water, maintenance or improvement of soil fertility, etc. land in this context means a combination of water, soil and organic content or matter.

The WOCAT methodology was originally designed to focus mainly on soil erosion and fertility decline in erosion-prone areas. However, during development and application of the methodology, users asked to include other land degradation types such as salinization, compaction etc. A SWC Technology consists of one or more measures belonging to the following categories. Agronomic, vegetative, structural and management etc. Combinations of the above measures which are complimentary and thus enhance each other, are part of a SWC technology. Our approach here, defines the ways and means used to promote and implement a SWC Technology and to support it in achieving more sustainable soil and water use.

Our research method in cognizance of the above includes a combination of some of the following;

  • formal surveys
  • observations
  • review of available information and previous projects
  • semi-structured and ‘conversational’ interviews with key informants
  • workshops
  • group interviews with rain harvesters/soil and water conservation practitioners.

In exhausting these tools, the participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) is used as the primary investigation method. This method is being used in combination, triangulated and being cross checked against one another for maximum and reliable effects. The expected outputs/outcomes of over study on Water Retention Ditches are;

  • Workshops and seminars to raise the importance of water retention ditches in agriculture, domestic water supply and sanitation etc.
  • The development of pro-poor and gender sensitive governance framework, including policy options, norms, standards and management tool kits.
  • Capacity building activities and demonstration of best practices on these technologies/approaches.
  • Documented reports on the usefulness and productive use of water through these technologies/approaches.

Lessons Learnt

  • Our study have shown that in most cases, that the construction and use of these structural measures to catch and store water ensures the availability of water all year round.
  • The technology primarily involves integrated use of natural resources, mostly a local technology/approach and requires mostly indigenous and local technology.
  • It was also observed that when these structures are constructed that a multiple benefits is often achieved. Some of these benefits include the control of soil erosion, flooding and drought. It creates employment as well as providing enough water for toilet and laundry (thus improving household hygiene and sanitation), farm irrigation, animal husbandry and self sufficiency on the land owner/user.


  • To really sustain and improve on the gains being made from these technologies and approaches there is an urgent need to educate and build the capacity of local users.
  • There is every need to promote best practices in this regard. This is necessary in order to guide against excessive water wastages pollution and land degradation.
  • There is need to develop usage into a business model, such that the economic benefits can easily be quantified. This is very vital in up-scaling, replication and sustainability.
  • A move towards immediate concise documentation of water supplied through rainwater catchments, transportation and storage is urgent. This is necessary in order to have data update that could easily serve as a reference and guide for policy and practice.

Since this type of structural infrastructure is assisting greatly, especially in providing alternative to supplies from the PSWB, there is every need to mainstream it into government framework and accord it maximum recognition. This is vital in order to improve and standardize it.

[Anonymous].  Submitted.  South Africa: putting integrated water resources management into practice (English).


At the advent of democracy in 1994, the ANC government seized the opportunity to formulate policies that could achieve an equitable and sustainable water resource use. Three National Acts were crucial in defining the working rules that dictated the institutional frameworks, as well as which stakeholders interacted over which resources and space;

(i) The National Water Act No. 36 of 1998 became the legal instrument for implementing the national water policy. The Act recognizes that "water is a natural resource that belongs to all people" and places the nation’s water resources in the public trusteeship of the National Government. This Act provides for the establishment of several statutory and non-statutory institutions in designated Water Management Areas and requires the formation of stakeholder participatory institutions, emphasizing the participation of previously disadvantaged rural communities. The Act outlines mechanisms for dealing with over-arching issues of water management across different types of uses and levels.

(ii) The Water Service Act of 1997 deals with water and sanitation services within delineated political administrative boundaries such as municipalities. This Act too provides for the establishment of several institutions that interface with water users, whether individual households (residential users) or industrial users. For instance it provides for the establishment of a Water Services Authority that regulates how water and sanitation services are provided and who provides them.

(iii) The Disaster Management Act of 2000 deals with the management of all manner of disasters including floods and droughts. While the National Water Act and the Water Services Act fall under the armpits of the National Department of Water Affairs (DWAF), the Disaster Management Act falls under the armpit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs. Public participation in disaster management at local levels is suggested to happen through ward committees, which lie in the lowest political voting boundaries.

In summary, this policy environment provides for separate institutional avenues for gaining access to water resources in general, to domestic water and sanitation services and to dealing with either excess water (floods) or moisture deficits (drought). In practice, such an environment requires that local communities understand the different institutional channels through which they can voice their concerns. Such multiple institutional environment is generally a source of frustration among community members as the Mthatha case below demonstrates.

Local responses

In response to the National Water Act, two Catchment Management Forums[1] (CMFs) emerged in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa during 1999. The Mthatha Catchment Management Forum (Mthatha CMF) emerged in Water Management Areas (WMA) 12 in the western end of the province (see Figure 1 on bottom page). It took responsibility for the overall management of the Mthatha catchment which is made up of three secondary catchments covering a total area of approximately 5500 km2 and a population of just over half million people of whom 91 percent are rural, living in small and remote villages.

Participation of poor rural communities in the CMF was taken seriously in the formation of both Forums. In Mthatha, in which the process received substantial financial and professional backup from DWAF, public and private media advertisement led to public consultation meetings and the inauguration of a management committee for the Forum. The nomination of a management committee was preceded with a workshop to identify crucial issues to be tackled by the Forum. Some crucial issues identified included the tackling of pollution of the MthathaRiver, domestic water supply needs for rural communities, tackling poverty and land degradation. Socio-economic statistics bear witness to the salience of these concerns; approximately 84 percent of households in the catchment earn less than two US dollars a month (DWAF 2002), the total area under irrigation is estimated at 293 hectares while there is potential in excess of 1200 hectares (DWAF 2002), while the economy of the catchment is dependent largely on livestock farming, with sheep and cattle farming providing a living for rural subsistence farmers, livestock water requirements are met mainly from the limited surface water sources, while substantial groundwater resources play a minor role. The catchment is generally under-developed and the area is characterised by a high degree of unemployment and high poverty levels. Constant outbreaks of cholera in the catchment is evidence of poor access to clean water by the majority of rural communities who depend, for their domestic needs, on water collected directly from the river.

Four years after the formation of the CMF, participation of local people in Forum activities became problematic with complete absence in most meetings of representatives from the 1055 communities that exist in the catchment. This was attributed to fact that the Forum did not address itself to several issues that were of concern to local people, one of which was the improvement of domestic water services to rural communities. The Forum on its part argued that such water concerns lay outside its jurisdiction. The Mthatha Forum, dominated by government and private stakeholder representatives, concerned itself with issues of generating a catchment management strategy and argued that the CMF was only a policy body with regards to water utilisation and quality issues and implementation role was a prerogative of municipalities and other related bodies.

The Kat CMF case study

About 350 kilometers to the west of Mthatha Catchment lies the KatRiverValley catchment falling in Water Management Area 15. The Kat Catchment Management Forum (Kat CMF) which emerged at about the same time as Mthatha became responsible for a catchment that extends approximately 80km north to south and covers an area of approximately 1700km2. It is characterised by a variety of land uses, ranging from export-oriented citrus farming and commercially oriented rangeland stock farming in the lower reaches of the catchment to community-based or small-scale agriculture and stock farming in the middle reaches of the catchment and commercial forestry in the north-western upper reaches (McMaster, 2002). The Kat catchment exhibits similar socio-economic conditions as those found in Mthatha catchment.

Unlike the Mthatha CMF, researchers from a nearby University facilitated the emergence of the Kat CMF.RhodesUniversity researchers undertook anthropological research that resulted into workshops in 17 villages from late 1999 to mid-2000. The aim of these workshops was to create environmental awareness (co-operative and responsible resource management). Upstream-downstream relationships between the villages was role-played and analysed. The awareness creation conducted through Participatory Rural Appraisal methods led to the build-up of the formation of the CMF in which broader issues relating to catchment management could be tackled. Since the focus of RhodesUniversity researchers’ activities was on the empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities, the CMF became dominated by a high representation of community members and the Forum is well rooted into the community structure of the rural KatRiver areas.

The Kat CMF, driven mainly by stakeholders from local communities has addressed itself to a wide range of issues since its inception;

  • It has engaged the local municipality in improving domestic water services in rural communities through boreholes. Rather than leaving these issues to local municipal water service institutions, it has participated in the discussion of these concerns.
  • Through its own initiative, it has accessed funds from the Department of Agriculture to implement a land regeneration project. The project employs local community members, a high percentage being women, to construct water traps across eroded slopes, burying the gullies with stones and planting fast growing plants in denuded landscapes as well as erecting fences around the excessively eroded areas to restrict movement of grazing animals. Sedimentation of the KatRiver from excessive soil erosion is a serious problem. Considering that majority of local people use water directly from the river, this project addresses a salient issue.
  • It has networked and established useful links. One such bilateral relationship has been with Spiral Trust, an NGO concerned with personal transformation and social change. Through this association, workshops for capacity building in diverse skills including small business management have been held in the communities.
  • It is engaging the Department of Agriculture to support groups of small-scale agricultural producers to start irrigation farming.

As result, the support and interest in the CMF among local people in the catchment is growing. Results from an informal survey in the catchment indicated that most local people new about the operations of the CMF specifically because of the land regeneration project which was providing an income to local people.

Lessons learned

The two cases demonstrate that

  • Institutional designs that involve the participation of local poor people require holistic approaches encompassing concerns from bucket to basin, from environment to poverty. Generally, if local community members are allowed or take responsibility to drive the management processes in multi-stakeholder participatory institutions, they are likely to address salient issues as the Kat CMF demonstrated, after all ‘ he who feels it, knows it’.
  • While experts, through their policies, have segregated avenues through which local people could access and manage resources that support their livelihoods, local people have an integrated view of these concerns. ‘S upermarket institutions’ or ‘ one-stop- shop institutions’ that provide holistic approaches to local concerns could be the answer to complex local problems.
  • When community members participate in water resource management by voicing their concerns, they also wish to act on those concerns. Mere dialogue is not sufficient in resolving domestic water concerns.

Specific recommendations for future work

It would be of special interest to study and document how the Kat CMF has been able to circumvent limitation placed on community driven multi-stakeholder institutions, which the Mthatha CMF failed to escape. This form of research could be achieved through a joint workshop between the Mthatha and Kat CMFs in which community stakeholders could engage stakeholders from government and private sector to discuss how productive water concerns at micro-level could be integrated into catchment level management plans. Such a workshop could provide the much-needed social learning among all participating stakeholders.


The author collected information for this case study between 2002 and 2004 as part of a PhD research study using ethnography as a research tool. In addition, an informal survey was conducted in both Mthatha and Kat catchment to establish household livelihood systems. The author is from Fort Cox College of Agriculture in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.


DWAF 2002. MtataRiver Catchment Management Strategy. Plan of Action. First Draft . Prepared by Ninham Shand in association with Goba Moahloli & Associates. Department of Water Affairs.

McMaster, A., 2002, GIS in Participatory Catchment Management: A Case Study in the Kat River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa. MSc. Thesis., RhodesUniversity.

[1] Catchment Management Forums are a form of multi-stakeholder platforms that deal with holistic water resource management and representing multiple economic sectors, ideally public, private and civil-society interests.

[Anonymous].  Submitted.  Zimbabwe: multiple uses of water, gender roles and responsibilities, Chipinge (English).

This study was undertaken in Chipinge District in Zimbabwe during the period December 2004-February 2005. It focuses on Manzvire Village which is located approximately 85 kilometres from Chipinge town, along the Mutare-Chiredzi town highway in Ward 22. At the time of this study, about 514 households were in Manzvire, the majority ndau-speaking people. According to Mrs. Mabuyana, an active Village Committee Worker, about 289 households had access to individual Blair toilets and 180 had access to pit latrines. At least 45 households were said to have no access to any form of decent sanitation but were allowed temporary access to their neighbor’s facilities. In the village, there are 4 primary schools and 1 secondary school; 2 clinics and the Manzvire business centre. In Manzvire, HIV/AIDs and rural/urban migration means that at least 80% of the households are female or orphan-headed.

Data collection

The researcher conducted interviews and discussion using an appreciative inquiry approach to assess multiple uses of water and peoples’ preparedness to manage available water sources. This involved holding discussions with project stakeholders including UNICEF personnel, the Rural District Council (RDC), Ministry of Health, AREX, DNR, and community and District Water Supply and Sanitation Sub-Committee members. Focus group discussions revealed how women felt about their involvement in all developmental spheres in their locality and how they had been previously marginalized.

Other interviews with water point committee members and girl children helped to give an understanding of the norms and perceptions of how men and women share roles and responsibilities and in which type of collective action they are engaged. A feminist approach was used to examine the patriarchal and andocentric power structures in the village and the empowerment framework to assess changes in these power structures from different perspectives. Communities were able to indicate the allocation of tasks within their family and how they use water sources available to them.


Water sources and uses

There is no surface water in Manzvire village except for the SaveRiver, 16km away. People use boreholes and shallow wells as water supply sources. The village has 10 boreholes with at least 8 reported to be functional. The village has 10 boreholes with at least 8 reported to be functional. During community meetings, respondents, particularly women attributed naturally occurring water like the Save river to God. However, men, especially the elderly and the traditional leaders known as Mutape attributed river water to ancestors and power to control its uses was heavily vested in their Chief. It was quite interesting to note that ownership of man-made sources like boreholes was perceived as belonging to the community. As such, both men and women did frequent maintenance and timely repairs of the boreholes. They showed their willingness to pay to have improved water sources. This in itself is a clear testimony that the community-based management concept has indeed changed the mindset of the people. This is unlike in some areas where the communities still perceive boreholes as belonging to the government or donor agencies such as Plan International or World Vision and they are still very reluctant even to repair in the event that it breaks down. While the majority of the people expressed their willingness to pay for the establishment, operation and maintenance of water points, there was a general agreement that there were those unable to pay but could contribute in one way or the other. This was particularly the case with those advanced in age.

Classification of water uses

Villagers classified their water uses in the following categories:

  • Domestic: drinking, cooking, bathing, livestock watering, backyard gardening and laundry.
  • Productive: brick making, cooperative gardening, construction, and sugar cane production

Except for the Save river, all other water sources were within close proximity of most homes. In many homes, especially the female-headed ones, it was revealed that they needed water for both domestic and productive purposes. Focus group discussions showed that use of available water was highly gendered. For example, the interest of men was mainly on having water for their livestock and construction. However, other water uses were cited as beer making and baptism for example, along the Save river. People also get fish from the river, which they claimed formed part of their nutritional base and they also eke a living through the sell of fish. Women felt that accessibility of water points was very important to them like one woman pointed out; “ We no longer have the daily burden of walking about eight kilometers to get water”, . “We can now devote much of this time to our families and other productive activities such as gardening, which forms our daily livelihoods” (water point committee member, echoed in support of the previous speaker). About 70% of the girls interviewed, their daily uses of water were just similar to those of their mothers. Both boys and girls also indicated that water was very important for sanitation. They explained at their schools, there are now pour–flush toilet systems. As such, it was their responsibility to take water to their schools every day for cleaning toilets.

Contrary to the above, the youth interviewed expressed their interests in using the Save river as a swimming place, where they could spend the day, meeting friends and playing. On whether this was approved by their parents, one respondent sad, “ our parents do not like it but swimming is our hobby” reasons cited by about 80% of those parents interviewed were that many youth have drowned in the river and there was also possible contamination of diseases like bilharzia.

On whether there were any restrictions on the use of water for productive use, the response was that anyone who wanted to use water for productive purposes was not limited so long he/she pays. However, sources used were those boreholes which were reported to have salty water. It is also quite interesting to note that there is no a limit to water for domestic purposes. The community views water as a basic human right, and every family was entitled to use the water but was supposed to contribute in one way or the other to sustain the available sources. However, boreholes were locked at night to avoid poachers and free riders . Free riders were those people who were not willing to contribute but wanted to use the water. Poachers were singled out as those people from other villages who would come at night with wheel-barrows and scorch carts to fetch water from this village. For each borehole, there was a water point caretaker, who was solely responsible for locking and opening to allow people access during the day.

Headwork construction has also allowed domestic animals to drink the water flowing when people are pumping water for drinking or other household uses. Some families have also planted banana fruit trees around water points

Gender roles and responsibilities

In 2003, UNICEF contributed approximately US $4,000 to the district for the rehabilitation of water supply sources, mainly bore-wells. Given high external contracting costs, the RDC adopted a community-based programming approach and targeted funds for community mobilization, training workshops, and the training of local well sinkers and headwork builders.

Women in Manzvire village were identified as key beneficiaries to receive training in water system operations and maintenance since many of the men who had received community training earlier had left the village to take up better paying jobs and some spent much time on drinking sprees. As a result, women suffered most in times of water shortages due to breakdowns of the boreholes.

Initially, in the male-headed households, the husbands felt threatened and disapproved their wives’ involvement in project meetings. UNICEF held an awareness-raising workshop in the village, outlining the benefits of training both men and women, which helped men begin to accept that their wives were equally important agents of change. Women were subsequently trained to ensure prompt repairs and proper maintenance of boreholes. They received skills training in latrine building and pump maintenance and tools and took on the role of mobilizing other communities in the same Ward.

Another challenge the women faced in the initial days was that the long traditional dress for Zimbabwean women inhibited work for the latrine builders, and overalls and work-suits were considered to be for men only. However, frequent community meetings with UNICEF and the RDC slowly changed the attitude of both men and women in the village and dressing code was loosened so that women could wear work-suits and overalls during construction or any other work like repairing boreholes.

Planning, selection of appropriate technology and site selection of new water points, as well as upgrading and rehabilitation of existing systems is increasingly based on both men and women’s participation. Women select technology they want and site locations. An elder remarked during one of the meetings, “I t is the women who spend much of the time with this resource and we saw it fit for them to have a bigger share when it comes to decisions”.

Once the women were able to become involved, however, they found that although they had increased power, their workload increased significantly. They still had to carry out their traditional reproductive and productive work, and now were also working on latrines and boreholes while some men continued to spend considerable time drinking. The men finally agreed to help decrease women’s extra burden by taking on responsibility for protecting water points from animals by fencing and putting cement around some deep wells.

At the household level, women dealt with the workload issues by working out a collective roster in which they assigned water and sanitation duties and tasks to each household for designated water points. This included regular cleaning and clearing of open drains to curb water logging to discourages mosquito breeding.

The women also established savings and credit clubs with revolving funds to purchase spare parts locally available to replace worn out parts and greasing oil. Some clubs also had male members. The women also established a cooperative garden. Initially each household made a monthly contribution from the sales of their vegetables and other produce from this garden. Husbands were also asked to make contributions to the fund when required. The women opened a Post Office Savings Bank account to deposit these community funds.

The community also attributed their success to effective leadership of their dedicated councilor, Mrs. Chirimambowa. They also could call upon traditional leaders to solve disputes if members did not meet their obligations to the group.

The Ministry of Health has been instrumental in training health educators, the Village Health Workers (VHWs). Villge Health Workers have a tremendous task of educating and information dissemination to the general public on health and hygiene good practices. In Manzvire, this has resulted in the formation of health clubs and other community-led initiatives. However, they lamented over their paltry monthly allowance, which they said were not helping them.

Although, we as UNICEF, have been instrumental in providing financial and technical support in the beginning, we strongly emphasized the building of local partnerships and local initiatives”, said Nicholas Moyo, Assistant Health Programme Officer. He explained that the credit should go to the RDC for effective community leadership. “We operate in various districts, but the impact in this district, particularly in ward 22 is quite encouraging”, he added. The capacity at district level has been strengthened by refresher courses attended at the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, Harare and RDC’s increased capacity to assist the community through participation at conferences, workshops and seminars

Effective collaboration and coordination between Manzvire village and the council’s water division and with UNICEF has played a significant role in the project’s success. The skills and knowledge acquired in building women’s capacity to manage water supply systems stimulated further community-led development. The skills and knowledge acquired in building women’s capacity to manage their own water supply systems stimulated r further community-led development and with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare trained the village groups as ward care supporters. Their role is to collect information on health related issues from households, to support home-based AIDS groups, and help nursing village AIDS patients.


From the above findings, the researcher recommends that there is need for the clear documentation of gender roles and responsibilities with regard to resource utilization and management, clearly showing the role of both people in society. Rural peoples’ attitude and their indigenous knowledge management systems need not to be taken for granted. As such, they should be integrated in the formulation of policies and guidelines for the management of water.

From this study, we see that water users at community level can effectively manage their water and sanitation resources and that women play a key role in this process since water has historically been regarded as ‘women’s domain’ in Africa (Azwidowi Mukheli et al: 2002: 731). In Manzvire, villagers showed a clear understanding of multiple uses of water, roles and responsibilities in use and safe guarding this precious resource were clearly identified.

The key lesson from Manzvire is that women are equally effective agents of change as such their equal representation and participation in water is quite essential. Women have increased time for other productive activities such as market gardening, which apart from giving them some cash forms their nutritional base. Recognisisng gender roles and responsibilities of all water users can greatly improve rural peoples’ livelihoods through productive water uses such as cropping, livestock watering and other dependent small scale activities.


Manase, G. et al. 2004. An Analysis of Gender Policies in the Water and Sanitation Sector in Zimbabwe, WARFSA Technical Report Series No.4. Institute of Water and Sanitation Development. Harare.

Makumbe, J. Mw, 1996. Participatory development, the case of Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe Publications, Harare.

Manzungu, E. 2003. An evaluation of rural communities’ water use patterns and preparedness to manage domestic water sources in Zimbabwe. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Volume 28, Elsevier Science Ltd. Amsterdam.

Mkandhla, M.. 2003. “Pro-Poor Strategies To Meet Basic Needs: The Case of Women and Rainwater Harvesting in Kajiado District, Kenya”. African Water Journal, Pilot Edition UN-Water/ Africa. Addis Ababa.

Mukheli, A. et al. 2002. “Is the Pungwe Water Supply Project a Solution to Water Accessibility and Sanitation Problems of Households of Sakubva, Zimbabwe?” Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Volume 27. Elsevier Science Ltd. Amsterdam.

Morardet, S. et al., 2005, How to finance multiple use water systems for the rural poor? Lessons learnt from the domestic water sector in the Olifants River Basin, South Africa.


Luckson Katsi, University of Zimbabwe, Department of Civil Engineering, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe (luckson_katsi@yahoo.com)

[Anonymous].  Submitted.  India: rural water supply publication.

A recent book addresses some of the problems caused in rural India by a narrow focus on water for drinking. An extended quote from the book makes interesting reading:

“The rationale for Unicef's agreement to support the 'accelerated' rural water supply programme is very significant. The thrust was safe drinking water, to pursue the goal of improved public health particularly of children. In spite of the needs of the Indian farmer for water to irrigate his crops during the dry season, without which his family's food supply would be threatened and children's and women’s' well-being jeopardized from another direction, Unicef's concern was limited to water for drinking and domestic purposes. Indeed, if there had been any mention of agriculture during the debates surrounding the proposal, it would have stopped dead in its tracks. Some advocates of applied nutrition were keen to support domestic water supplies for kitchen gardens as an adjunct of family food supplies, but nutrition programmes were then seen as an adjunct to health in the Unicef perspective. This did not accord with the way community water resources were traditionally viewed, either by villagers or by previous government policy.

Given their multiple needs for water, including water to irrigate their crops, villagers in India tend to view the water resources available to them holistically. What they need is water, plain and simple. In many parts of the country little differentiation is made between water for drinking and domestic purposes and water for cultivation. Certain wells and other sources may be favoured for drinking because of their taste or perceived purity, or because they can be more conveniently accessed. Until the advent of the 'problem village' with its exclusive focus on defining water scarcity in terms of water for drinking, government programmes for village water supply had not made this distinction either. But in the late 1960s, influenced on the one hand by the Green Revolution and its emphasis on large-scale irrigated agriculture, and on the other by a new 'water for health' ideology promoted by Unicef and WHO, government policies towards water were for the first time compartmentalized.

The long-term implications of this division along sectoral lines were not then perceived but they were to be profound. In fact the idea that they were promoting a departure from the norm did not occur to Unicef, whose new water professionals were schooled in Western public health engineering traditions, where domestic water supplies have no livelihood context and are almost exclusively about washing, cooking and drinking. No one can quarrel with the primacy of water for drinking. Water to drink is indisputably essential for human and livestock survival. But a policy which neglected other basic water needs, and failed to integrate requirements for agriculture and requirements for health has become, in more recent times an albatross of terrifying proportions. Such a crisis has not been anticipated at the time. There was a head of political steam behind village drinking water supplies, and after initial self-doubt, Unicef stood ready to serve.”

Read more in Black, M., Talbot, R. 2005. Water a matter of life and health, water supply and sanitation in Village India, Unicef with Oxford University Press, New Delhi. The above quote is from pages 41-43.