Untying the Gender Knot: Integrating GBV Prevention with Access to WASH in rural communities of Zimbabwe

Untying the Gender Knot: Integrating GBV Prevention with Access to WASH in rural communities of Zimbabwe

Improving access to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services contributes to improved health, life expectancy, student learning, gender equality, and other development challenges. SAfAIDS Zimbabwe integrated WASH into its Untying the Gender Knot Phase II programme on ending Gender-Based Violence and HIV, and links to coping with COVID-19. Two new boreholes were built in Mberengwa and Chegutu to provide potable water to vulnerable communities; and benefitted over 10 000 people from Sherwood and Chaora rural communities; including school populations. Previously these communities relied on unsafe wells for water, and dry seasons forced adolescent girls and women to walk long distances, during the night, to fetch water; exposing them to risks of sexual gender-based
violence. Over the years, communities like Chaora have been prone to drought, high temperatures, and low rainfall; as a result of climate change. Due to lack of water and sanitation, the Chaora and Sherwood communities faced various outbreaks of diseases like bilharzia, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, and the most recent COVID-19. The drilling of the boreholes has brought relief to the two communities.

Drilling team setting up the Sherwood borehole

Mr. Dube, a farmer from the Chaora community, whose children used to miss school due to lack of safe water and waterborne illness, stated “My children used to miss school a lot because they would get bilharzia and diarrhea. Sometimes, they would miss school as we would go for days without water”. He expressed his delight at the SAfAIDS Zimbabwe intervention, and how it would reduce their health challenges, as well as exposure of their girls to being abused while traveling long distances to collect water for households.

One of the AGYW beneficiaries, Nyasha Andrade, shared: “I am 15 years old, from Sherwood Community. I thank SAfAIDS, Ndaiziva, and the Embassy of Ireland for this donation of a borehole. We have a problem with water in our community; and have had to wake-up early in the morning around 2 am – especially on these days when it is not raining, to look for water in shallow and dirty nearby wells. This affects my schooling, as I get to school when I am already tired. At our home, the 5 of us share a small bucket of water, because if we waste the little water, we will have nowhere to replace it. Now that we have water, my problems of waking up early to fetch water are over, I can focus better on my school and am more healthy”

A Sherwood family celebrating the borehole