An analysis of the impact of perennial water problems on time and economic affordability for women working outside the home in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Manjengwa, Catherine Yewedzo
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Every Zimbabwean has the right to safe and potable water and for women the right to water is intrinsically linked with their lives and the realisation of this right ensures for them the right to a secure livelihood. They expect the government of Zimbabwe to work towards the attainment of this right. However, of late in Zimbabwe due to poor management of the water systems and the economic decline that the country went through in recent years provision of water has become an elusive right. For many urban homes water taps have become decorations and the women have had to grapple with balancing their right to earn a living and the right to access safe and potable water for their homes. This paper critically examines the role of women in society and the sacrifices that they make in order to ensure that water is available in their homes. It also looks at the country’s compliance with its international obligations to provide the right to water for its citizens in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza which has been hard hit by these water shortages and the country at large. The research was carried out in the high density town of Chitungwiza which has several high density locations within the town. Using qualitative research methods, the study revealed that water shortages are on the increase and that because of culture, religion and traditions, water searching and collecting roles fall on women and that these women are spending a lot of time away from other economic endeavours in trying to find water for their household needs. Non-provision of water is high in the town because the town has no independent water source and has to rely on the nearby city of Harare for all its water needs. The city of Harare is itself battling to provide water for its own residents and ultimately Chitungwiza residents are victims in all this and more so the women who work outside the home who are confronted with their roles at the work place and in the home in light of this water shortages. Women are the most affected by the water shortages and the country as a signatory to a number of international human rights instruments is failing to meet its obligations to promote, protect and fulfil its citizen’s right to access safe and potable water.