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NGO urges stop to water cuts

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A MATABELELAND non-governmental organisation has called on government to ensure citizens enjoy their right to water as households face water disconnections by service providers due to failure to pay rates.

BY SILAS NKALA

A MATABELELAND non-governmental organisation has called on government to ensure citizens enjoy their right to water as households face water disconnections by service providers due to failure to pay rates.

The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) said water cuts were a gross violation of human rights, especially at a time United Nations protocols stipulate that governments and sub-national governments must prohibit any disconnections of water to vulnerable people.

This also comes as most urban centres, especially Bulawayo and Harare are facing critical water problems.

Residents of the city have gone for six month or more without potable water.

“We wish to underscore the importance of the government and local authorities to put in place mechanisms that protect vulnerable communities from water disconnections especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the MIHR said in a statement.

“We note that water disconnections do not happen to those who haven’t paid bills only, but there is a new phenomenon of disconnections at boreholes.

“This is where, in some urban and rural areas, those who haven’t paid for the borehole repairs are refused access to water and where borehole handles are removed to deny them access,” it said.

The human rights group also raised a red flag over gender-based violence at water points which has become rampant.

“Women and girls are being victimised at alternative water points and their protection is very paramount especially considering that the Constitution guarantees rights to personal security.

“This, therefore, calls for the police to patrol alternative water points to protect women, girls, the elderly, people with disabilities and children from unruly youths and men who victimise them,” MIHR said.

Their concerns also come at a time the world commemorated the World Toilet Day on November 19 where the UN emphasised that governments all over the world should guarantee access to water and stop water cuts in order to prevent diseases and to promote personal hygiene through hand washing.

In their statement on World Toilet Day, the UN said COVID-19 could spread easily if people did not have water and if people are not washing hands using soap and clean water.

“We emphasise that the hardest hit by COVID-19 are the poorest communities, particularly some indigenous people, minorities and impoverished rural communities, as well as people living in crowded conditions and with difficulties in accessing adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services in refugee and internally displaced persons camps, informal settlements or temporary accommodation for migrant workers, among others,” the UN statement read.

 

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