By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Thousands of communities are set to benefit from a US$50 million sanitation grant from UKAID, part of the UK Department for International Development (DIFD), providing a major boost to the Zimbabwe government’s efforts to reduce water borne diseases in rural areas.
The Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, to be managed by UNICEF, will pay for the rehabilitation of 7,400 broken down boreholes and the drilling of 1,500 new boreholes across 10,000 rural communities. It will also see 15,000 latrines constructed across in 1,500 rural schools, including gender appropriate latrines for boys and girls as well as suitable latrines for people with disabilities that are also gender appropriate.
Speaking at the launch, Morgan Tsvangira, Zimbabwe’s prime minister, said the Rural WASH project aims to ensure safe water supply and sanitation access improves by 50% in rural areas in five provinces.
Tsvangira said: “Failure to provide safe drinking water is a serious abdication of duty by government. Without a rural development strategy, we will not be able to attain national development because about 70% of the population lives in the rural areas.”
Dave Fish, head of DFID’s African division, said: “The latest programme demonstrates the commitment of the British government and the people of Britain to improving the daily lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.”
The Rural WASH programme will enable existing water and sanitation infrastructure to be strengthened as well as building new infrastructure. It will also enable innovative, community led sanitation programmes to be launched, all in the most underserved districts in the country.
Dr Peter Salam, UNICEF country representative, said: “Ensuring access to clean water and adequate sanitation for the most vulnerable population for our society should now be our focus if we are to meet our health related millennium development goals.”