UNICEF moves a step closer in improving access to clean and safe water for women and children in small towns in Zimbabwe
By Tapuwa Mutseyekwa and Richard Nyamanhindi
UNICEF has advanced on plans to support 14 local authorities in Zimbabwe with the rehabilitation of water supply and sewage systems following the finalisation of the bidding process.
Invitations to bid for the rehabilitation was issued in December 2013, for the first batch of the seven towns (Chivhu, Gokwe, Gwanda, Hwange, Mutoko and Mvurwi) followed by site visits to the selected towns in January 2014 where pre-qualifying contractors were familiarized with the scope of the works.
“The opening of the bids was publicly done for the purposes of transparency and a total of 63 companies initially submitted their bids, from which 29 were pre-qualified following a rigorous evaluation process. Out of the 29 pre-qualifying contractors, 24 are Zimbabwean companies with the others coming from South Africa (three), and one each from China and India” said Jesus Trelles, the UNICEF Urban WASH Specialist.
“The next stage will involve the review of the proposals received per town and adjudication of the rehabilitation works, followed by the award of contracts,” Trelles added.
Under the “Fourteen (14) Towns Rehabilitation of Water Supply and Sewerage Systems (14 TRWASS)” programme, urban councils will from May 2014 be supported with rehabilitation of critical water and sewage infrastructure while ensuring complementary activities related to hygiene promotion and customer care management are also addressed.
These interventions will ultimately lead to reduced morbidity and mortality resulting from water-borne diseases, and will improve the quality of life through increased productivity of up to 500 000 people, particularly women and children.
“Inadequate water and sanitation services have the greatest impact on women and children as they have to walk long distances to collect water for their households,” said UNICEF Representative, Mr Reza Hossaini. “These activities can deprive women the opportunity to engage in more economically productive activities to enhance their livelihoods.”
Since 2009, UNICEF, has undertaken a massive refurbishment exercise of water and sanitation services in at least 20 urban councils, rural small towns and growth points, benefitting up to 4 million people. This was in direct response to the 2008/09 deadly cholera outbreak which killed more than 4,000 people.
The Small Towns Water Sanitation and Hygiene Programme is aimed at reducing the burden of diarrheal diseases, including the risk of cholera and improving the productivity of the population in the above referred 14 towns by maximizing the delivery of safe drinking water and access to improved sanitation facilities from the existing infrastructure.
The programme is funded by the Australian Government, managed by UNICEF and implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (MEWC) and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing (MLGPWNH).