ZIRP and UNICEF in WASH interventions in Manicaland

The community was consulted on the selection of suitable water springs followed by water quality testing which was conducted by trained community members.

John Mokwetsi and Rutendo Kambarami
Water point committee
27 November 2020

Martha Mutasa reflects, with a tinge of sadness in her eyes, about the recent past when Derere Village in Chimanimani lay in ruins after the devastating flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in early 2019. The disaster severely altered the way of living and left her community in dire circumstances.

“Houses were swept away, traditional water sources like boreholes and springs were under rubble and we had to compete for river water with animals. We were vulnerable to waterborne diseases because the water quality was poor,” Martha said.

For Martha and others walking for more than 5km to fetch water became a daily routine with many knock-on effects including impacting children who had to accompany their parents and miss school.

Key to improving water and sanitation in Derere village, UNICEF through the partner Welthungerhilfe (WHH) with funding from the World Bank supported Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP), implemented a community project that resulted in the construction of a piped water scheme, managed by a community Water Point Committee (WPC).

The community was consulted on the selection of suitable water springs followed by water quality testing which was conducted by trained community members. In addition, WHH have been training the community in building latrines and operation and maintenance of the water scheme. They will also use these skills to construct improved houses for themselves.

Speaking to UNICEF Zimbabwe, Adonis Faifi of Welthungerhilfe Zimbabwe said: “We led by the concept of building back better and drinking water safety and security planning (DWSSP). The WPC is championing sustainability of the Derere Piped Water Scheme. Over and above the usual duties of a WPC, they have distinguished themselves in promoting ownership of the scheme.”

 The Derere WPC is made up of a group of women from the community and includes a Chairperson, Sectary and Treasurer.

“They have embraced the fact that strengthening of institutional and community resilience is a key driver for sustainability of projects in the communities. Participation and empowerment for ownership and shared visioning helps to strengthen social cohesion, accountability, transparency and management of community projects,” said Adonis.

From the onset, the WPC has been greatly involved in the planning and designing of the network system. The committee has been involved in receiving and storing of construction materials of the scheme and transportation of materials from site warehouse to workstations.

The project fully embraced environmental and social safeguards concepts during conceptualisation to implementation. There were wide consultations done with community members on cultural norms, heritage sites, land ownership and acquisition, water access rights, gender-based violence (GBV), Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), and environmental protection.

Project sustainability was enhanced through the drinking water safety and security planning (DWSSP) and Sanitary Surveys Training, operation and maintenance procedures, skills transfer and clear institutional responsibilities of the WPC, Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), environmental health technicians (EHTs), and Village Health Workers (VHWs). 

The project also serves as an excellent example of sustainable engineering design where water quality is guaranteed by source protection, and clean water gravitates from the source to the users without pumping which results in minimal operation and maintenance effort.

Other WASH activities under ZIRP include construction works in Gumire Village, Chipinge where there is strong community engagement. This has led to the construction of a community-built toilet for residents with special needs. Construction of latrines at Gumire Primary School has also been undertaken by Oxfam with support from UNICEF and is nearing completion as schools re-open.