Murewa sanitation festival brings hope

Harmony Agere Extra Reporter —
Murewa Rural District Council hailed the partnership with CAFOD, saying Murewa is at the present moment struggling to provide water and proper sanitation to its residents.

THE usually quiet and sedentary Murewa Centre and its surrounding villages was last week treated to rare fanfare when the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) in conjunction with Caritas took this year’s Sanitation Festival to the district.

The festival, which is a flagship event for the Sanitation for Success Programme funded by the European Union to improve sanitation in poor communities, was being held for its second time following its launch in Nyanga last year.

Speaking at the festival celebrations, CAFOD country representative Verity Johnson said the Sanitation for Success Programme is targeting 19 000 people in Nyanga and Murewa.

“What we need to do as a country is to put in place a sustainable sanitation service delivery structure, with a view to ensuring universal access, preventing slippage and leaving no one behind,” she said.

“The programme started in January 2014 and runs until March 2017 and will benefit 19 212 people living in poor urban and peri-urban areas of Nyanga (6538) and Murewa (12674).”

The festival brought together communities, schools, private sector, academia, and Government institutions to appreciate and share innovations that improve sanitation and hygiene.

Various schools from Murewa and Nyanga exhibited impressive ideas and technologies on how to manage solid waste disposal, personal hygiene and the proper use of toilets in small towns and rural areas.

A high-powered panel comprising local and foreign engineers, the cooperate community, mayors and town clerks also discussed the problems affecting access to dignified sanitation.

Mayor of Steve Tshewete Municipality in South Africa Mr Mike Masina spoke of how managing budgets was becoming a challenge for local authorities.

“It is becoming a challenge for most municipalities and councils to manage their budgets properly, that is in terms of what goes to salaries and what goes to water and other services.

“Some end up taking money intended for development to pay salaries because they did not collect enough or because they have misused some.

“But there is no using common sense when it comes to this matter, if the laws say 70 percent goes to development and 30 percent to salaries, then there shouldn’t be discussions, you should do just that,” he said.

The partnership with Murewa Rural District Council appears to have come at the opportune time since Murewa is grappling with a severe shortage of ablution facilities.

According to Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, only 35 percent of Murewa’s rural households have toilets, a situation considered highly critical for a population of nearly 10 000 people.

“Those are the things that as Government we should be looking at but sometimes we need assistance from good friends because we cannot do everything alone,” he said.

“The issue of public health is something that we take very seriously, we need to build more toilets to ensure that there is no chance for disease outbreaks.”

Murewa Rural District Council hailed the partnership with CAFOD, saying Murewa is at the present moment struggling to provide water and proper sanitation to its residents.

The partnership has already seen the council receiving a refuse collection truck and several other vehicles to help in service delivery. Bins and street lights were also mounted in major streets, giving the growth point a new and exquisite look.

This will be a major boost for the council as it bids for town status. Murewa Centre is a strategic point in Mashonaland East province as it links the northern part of the province  (Uzumba, Murewa, Mutoko and Mudzi) to the southern part that includes Marondera, the provincial capital.

lf Murewa attains town status, it will become more vital in the socio-economic expansion of Mashonaland East. The provision of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is a challenge faced by many urban areas in most developing countries.

The provision of improved WASH facilities and services is critical, particularly in an urban setting where population densities are high. In Zimbabwe, the decade long economic challenges have had a significant impact on urban WASH services, culminating in the 2008 cholera outbreak.

With limited investments and maintenance of urban WASH facilities, the health of most urban residents is at high risk. Government and several development partners are therefore committed to the improvement of urban WASH services.

According to Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s 2016 Rural Livelihoods Assessment report, there was a significant increase in access to improved sanitation from 39 percent in 2014 to 47 percent in 2016.

The same report however indicated that nationally, 37 percent of rural households are practicing open defecation, which is consistent with 2014 rates. The highest proportion of open defecation was reported in Matabeleland North at 68 percent.

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