Powerpoint presentation by Bart Mupeta, Plan Zimbabwe, Martin Keijzer, Plan Netherlands and Amy Dietterich, Plan UK, given at the Thematic Group Meeting in London, 2007.
This year’s case study award goes to Nigel Murimiradzomba from Plan Zimbabwe. Out of the submitted abstracts, his was considered the best and will now be developed into a full case study. His work deals with one of Plan’s programmes where the provision of drip irrigation kits was part of a rural water supply programme. This allowed farmers to also use water for gardening activities. The drip kits reduce water losses and enable better use of limited water supplies. One of his key findings is to link such programmes with production-market chain linkages i.e. input/seed suppliers, suppliers of technology and market outlets, so as to optimize the benefits of the programme.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This case study provides an overview of the work and key interventions made by the NGO Pump Aid at the household (HH) and community levels in some parts of Zimbabwe. Prepared by Ian Thorpe, the case study entitled 'Appropriate technology for sustainable water systems in Zimbabwe', succintly discusses the technological approach adopted by the NGO (i.e. elephant pump) in providing communities with reliable access to clean, safe water for drinking and irrigation; the participatory approaches that are at the crux of its work and the success of the project; and its application of multiple/productive use of water.