Media centre


Press releases



Photo essays


Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Rural Households in Zimbabwe

UNICEF Zimbabwe/2012
© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2012
Sipho (in green shirt) would rather play with his siblings than walk 2 km every day to collect water from the unprotected well on the riverbed.

SIYAPAMBHILI, Zimbabwe, 30 August 2012 -  10 year old Sipho Donga walks 2km before and after school to collect water for his family from an unprotected well dug in the middle of the nearby dry riverbed.

Sipho lives with his parents and 5 siblings in the Siyaphambili Village, in drought-prone Tsholotsho North District of the Matebeleland North Province, Zimbabwe. There are 85 households in the village and no source of clean safe water. Only one household in the village has a pit latrine. The rest of the villagers practice open defecation.

“As soon as I was able to walk to school I also had to walk to the river to collect water,” he said. “Usually I am tired after a long day at school. I wish we had a borehole to make it easier to get the water.”

The woes of the villagers like those in Siyapambhili Village are set to end after the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), recently launched a US$50 million Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme, managed by UNICEF. This launch, which was held in the Tsholotsho district, follows the high level meeting on Sanitation and Water for All held in April 2012 in Washington DC, at which governments from around the world pledged to ensure safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all.

“This programme will help reduce the significant disparities in access to safe water and sanitation that exist today in Zimbabwe between the rural and urban populations,” said UNICEF, Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama. “We applaud the Inclusive Government for prioritizing the most vulnerable.”

In both rural and urban areas, Zimbabwe’s water supply and sanitation services have deteriorated due to years of under-investment. The deterioration culminated in the worst outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe’s history in 2008/9. Although progress has been made in rehabilitating water infrastructure in urban areas and cholera has remained under control since 2009, rural populations continue to bear the brunt of the poor water and sanitation in the country.

“This latest programme again demonstrates the commitment of the British Government and the people of Britain to improving the daily lives of ordinary Zimbabweans,” said Dave Fish Head of DFID Zimbabwe.

UNICEF Zimbabwe/2012
© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2012
Women and children wait patiently as cattle drink at a well in Buhera North District in the Maincaland Province, East of Zimbabwe. These are some of the people who will benefit from the Rural WASH programme.

With around 70% of Zimbabwe’s population living in rural areas like Tsholotsho, improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene there is critical as 42% practice open defecation in rural areas. 

“We applaud the Government of the United Kingdom for making good on its Global commitment to the WASH sector through support to Zimbabwe in record time”, said the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Hon. Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

The rural WASH programme will support rehabilitation of existing water and sanitation infrastructure, building of new infrastructure and launch innovative community-led sanitation programmes, all in the most under-served districts in the country.

“This WASH programme will go a long way in restoring the capacity of local authorities in service provision,” said Minister of Local Government Rural and Urban Development Dr. Ignatious Chombo. “I urge local authorities in rural areas to work with WASH implementers for the success of the programme.”

Through the support of DFID, the rural WASH programme will see 30 piped water schemes rehabilitated in 30 districts in 5 provinces in Zimbabwe over five years. In addition, 15 000 latrines are to be constructed in 10 000 communities, while 1500 latrines will be constructed in 1150 primary and 350 secondary rural schools. As a result, up to 2.5 million people will have year-round access to safe water supplies and sanitation facilities.

“We are committed to doing whatever we can as the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe to improve the lives of our people,” said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. “This rural WASH programme will certainly ensure improved access to water and sanitation for our rural population. We are very grateful to the Government of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development for this support to Zimbabwe’s growth and development.”

With this access to safe water, the Donga household will have a chance for a better life. With safe water comes the chance to improve the basic rights and welfare of Sipho and his siblings.



 Email this article

unite for children