Gweru water crisis hits hard disabled women

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
WOMEN with disabilities in the Midlands capital have bemoaned the stringent water rationing by Gweru City Council, saying they were finding it difficult to fetch water from boreholes.

Speaking at a Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Midlands chapter duty bearers engagement meeting last week, Gweru-based Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Association of Zimbabwe national secretary, Audrey Rusike, said women with disabilities were the most affected by the water crisis currently gripping the city.

“We have council coming up with a tight water schedule that has seen some of us, who are wheelchair-bound, going for months with dry taps,” she said.

“Imagine I am a mother with children and they need water, yet the only option is going to queue at boreholes with able-bodied women. There is a lot of shoving at boreholes and it becomes difficult for me to get the precious liquid.”

She said many other people with disabilities were facing similar challenges and called on the local authority to find solutions.

Rusike suggested that council uses water bowsers to supply the precious liquid to households of people with disabilities.

A member of Midlands Association for the Promotion and Welfare of the Blind, Belinda Musesengwe, echoed similar sentiments and said visually impaired women were also finding it hard to get water.

“Most of the suburbs where we come from have virtually been without water for more than three months now,” she said.

“There are visually impaired women with minor children who cannot help fetch water from boreholes. At times we end up relying on the benevolence of neighbours, but it becomes difficult to be helped every day.”

City engineer Robson Manatsa said the water rationing schedule was unavoidable given that the main water source, Gwenoro Dam, would be decommissioned any time soon.

He, however, said given the availability of resources, council was open to helping the disadvantaged in the city access water.

It also emerged during the meeting that women and the girl child were exposed to all forms of violence, because they mostly have to fetch water from boreholes late at night.

The women also said the Zesa load-shedding was also affecting them as they had to juggle between fetching water and seeking alternative energy sources such as firewood, among others.

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