Water awareness campaign in Zimbabwe: youth call for change!

16 Mar 2016

Blog post written by MacDonald K Munyoro, of National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO), Zimbabwe on 14 March 2016          

2015 has come and gone – yet the agenda it created through the agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has the world planning and proffering strategies to achieve this ambitious agenda. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his own synthesis report, “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet” noted that: “Young people will be the torch-bearers of the next sustainable development agenda through 2030.” NAYO, through our work with youths, continues to create platforms to lobby, advocate and learn in the pursuit of the SDG 6 – to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. To celebrate World Water Day and Water Action Month in March, we have a number of initiatives to raise awareness and call for change!

Advocacy workshop

NAYO partnered with Community Water Alliance in a workshop to develop a water campaign strategy – this in recognition of the declining quality of water service delivery across the country and to call for change. The workshop was attended by the Mayor of Harare, different sects of civil society, residents and youth. The Honourable Mayor in Harare in his key note address noted the many challenges faced by the local authority to deliver water to citizens citing that this had been worsened by the drying up of 14 000 boreholes in the City, low water levels of Lakes and Dams and rising pollution in sources of water.

Mayor of Harare presents to the workshop

The main water supplier, the Morton Jeffrey Water Works is over 60 years and can no longer sustain the population of Harare – efforts to rehabilitate it has necessitated total shutdowns of the works. The Mayor also shared efforts made by the local authority to improve service delivery, such as opting for post-paid water services as opposed to pre-paid; introducing new housing policies that promote saving of water; construction of new water sources and wetland preservation. As part of the workshop presentations were also made on a range of other issues, including:

  • Water policy reform in Zimbabwe
  • The AAAQ Framework and the human right to water
  • Effects of climate change on urban water security

The workshop also provided the opportunity for experience sharing from civil society organisations who have led successful campaigns on local governance issues. A mapping exercise was undertaken to allow for coordination of efforts and for the strategy to reflect on the work of the different stakeholders. The strategy will inform national advocacy actions and messaging on the human rights to water and sanitation.

Youth Tour of Morton Jeffrey Water Works

A tour of the city’s main water supplier was held in February,led by Engineer Zvobgo who heads the Water Department for Harare, and included fellow engineers at the water works and the Mayor for the City of Harare. As part of the tour, delegates were shown some of the equipment purchased under the Chinese loan; equipment purchased under the ZIM-FUND; sites under rehabilitation at the water works; installed equipment and newly built structures on the plant by the City of Harare and had a short de-brief meeting with the Mayor, City Engineer and Town Clerk over water service delivery issues. Delegates during the tour noted the daunting task placed before the local authority to ensure improved access to and quality of water.

Civil society visit to Morton Jeffreys Water Works

To complete the rehabilitation of the Water Works, the local authority requires a full month of shut-down, which is not possible, so has doing this in phases which has necessitated 48-36 hour shutdowns of the water works. Youth CSOs and advocates noted the need to curb water pollution, along with addressing issues of inclusion. As a result, plans are now underway to arrange for a tour of major rivers and lakes feeding into Lake Chivero which supplies water to Harare - this due to the rising levels of pollution which now threaten the realisation of the right to water. The visit was part of some of the outcomes from the Youth in Governance and Accountability (YAG) project being implemented by NAYO which is now in its final year. The tour was done during a total shutdown of the water works meant to allow the installation of new valves – however due to unforeseen technical challenges engineers failed to install the new valves forcing them to re-open the supply without the necessary improvements.

Action-Aid Youth Working Group

NAYO was recently selected to sit on the Youth Working Group of ActionAid International. This Youth Working Group consists of Activistas (a global youth campaigning network), CDs/Country senior management, representation from Global Platforms (youth activism hubs), and youth working in Local Rights Programmes, and now external youth activists/organisations. This is a great opportunity for us to have a strong and united youth voice at a global level!

We will continue to work hard to have a united voice calling for change and to ensure a better future for all. That’s why we support Water Action Month as together we can achieve the world we want!

NAYO and other youth representatives brainstorming their advocacy campaigns for Water Action Month.