Today, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) conducted a #WaterIndaba at Esigodini’s Upper Umzingwane catchment area board room. The all-stakeholder engagement meeting on water was aimed at facilitating dialogue between various relevant stakeholders and members of the community on the current water crisis in Umzingwane District. Key stakeholders present at the Indaba included representatives from Umzingwane District Administrator’s office, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and Environmental Management Agency (EMA). Also, present was Umzingwane District Chairperson, ten ward councilors, WILD’s Ward Advocacy Committee members and officials from the Member of Parliament’s Constituency Office. The #WaterIndaba was necessitated by incessant complaints by villagers on the unaffordability, inaccessibility, unavailability and poor quality of water in the district. It was further necessitated by community calls for an open and candid dialogue of stakeholders on the way forward in so far as water provision in Umzingwane District is concerned. Climate change, illegal gold panning practices and lack of coordination of stakeholders were identified as some of the causes of water challenges. As a way of proffering possible solutions to the water problem, delegates agreed on the following resolutions:
- Umzingwane Rural District Council (URDC) to be proactive and assertive in order to engage central government and other stakeholders on how they would like communities in the district to benefit from proper implementation of devolution of power.
- URDC should research and investigate the agreement with Bulawayo City Council (BCC) on the use of water bodies in the district. According to the delegates, the fifty-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) deal between the two local authorities has lapsed and has to be renegotiated for the benefit of Umzingwane Communities.
- BCC was urged to pursue the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project so as to transfer control of the dams in Umzingwane District back to URDC.
- Delegates agreed that relations among stakeholders have to be strengthened and that there has to be unity of purpose and a common agenda in order for the water challenges to be effectively solved.
- ZINWA was challenged to initiate and embrace Public Private Partnerships in order to respond to community needs and be relevant in the Umzingwane District contest. As a start, ZINWA was urged to support Esikhoveni Agricultural College as a demonstration of sincerity and sympathy to the plight of the communities.
- As a follow-up to questions left unanswered by ZINWA representatives, #WaterIndaba delegates tasked WILD to convene a meeting aimed at facilitating interface between Umzingwane residents and all ZINWA departments.
- Government requested to undertake capacity building initiatives for artisanal miners so that they are knowledgeable about the environment.
- EMA was urged to support ward environmental committees with resources, visibility material and incentives so that they are easily recognized in the communities and can carry out their duties with confidence.
- Councillors were urged to apply for grants that EMA periodically gives out to local authorities.
- WILD was tasked to ensure that in the upcoming discussions on water, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) technocrats and the department responsible for security of the dams in Umzingwane District are present to ensure balanced discussions.
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