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Water point users committees alleviate health scare

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Staff Reporter  

A reputation for typhoid and cholera outbreaks which characterized Glenview 3’s Tichagarika shops and surrounding areas has been put to a halt as almost two years has lapsed without any case of the water born disease being reported.

With water also being part of basic preventive measures to the corona virus disease as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the installation, management and distribution of water sources has become a priority for Glen-view residence and beyond.

The initiative of Water Points Users Committees (WPUCs) which was introduced by the Community Water Alliance (CWA) a civic organization that does governance on water management issues has given residence a sense of entitlement to water points constructed in their communities.

During yesterday’s (Tuesday)“Hurukuro Patsime”, initiated by CWA and broadcasted live on Star FM in Glenview, Locadia  Matanhire, chairperson of Tichagarika (WPUC) gave a composition of her committee and how it is operating to ensure sustainable and adequate access of water for all users.

“My committee is made up of seven people comprising of three men and four women. Basically the women take turns in making sure that strict adherence to smartness and covid-19 prevention measures are being practiced.

“Men also are responsible for the manpower to ensure that any technical glitches of our solar powered borehole are quickly fixed. They also provide security and ensure that there is no vandalism on our water source”, she said.

She also acknowledged behavior change amongst water users as residents have adopted the culture of washing their hands under running water, wearing of face masks and maintenance of social distance whenever they are fetching water at the source.

This was reiterated by Community Water Alliance Information Officer Christopher Gohori who spoke to Bustop TV on the sidelines of the event and attributed the adaptation of these healthy precautions by users to successful teachings and enforcement by WPUC members.

“Through the establishment and training of water point committee members, the culture of hand washing has improved than before. Water point committees encourage water users to regularly wash their hands with soap under running water before they are allowed to access water at boreholes. They also educate residents on the importance of practicing social distancing and proper wearing of face masks in response to Covid-19 pandemic. Right now not only on Tichagarika but most public water points are following Covid-19 prevention protocols as a result of the existence of WPUCs,” he said.

Gohori also explained to this publication the reasons behind the establishment of Water Points Users Committees model of water management as well as their mandate in the supervision and distribution of the precious liquid.

“When development partners came to give assistance in the water sector, they sunk boreholes as a short term intervention to provide alternative sources where residents could easily access potable water. The boreholes were then handed over to the community and that is when water point committees were established to manage the boreholes.

“Their role is to make sure there are no acts of vandalism at the boreholes because some are solar powered and needs security. It is the responsibility of the water point committee to manage the water point on behalf of the community. There is need to manage water distribution at the water point which is another reason why these committees were formed,” he explained.

In order to ensure that Water Point Users Committees have a standard operations procedure, Community Water Alliance has come-up with a standard model of a Constitution which was shared with every Water Point Users Committee elected by the community to work on voluntary basis.

The constitution provide for annual election of members and also ensures that Water Point Users Committees report and gives feedback to the community on a monthly basis.

WPUCs also relate with other important stakeholders at local level like ZRP and Local District Office. They do not involve partisan politics at public water points since every person has the right to access potable water despite their political affiliation.

These Committees are entitled to engage and consult the community whenever they wish to peg monthly contribution fees which are used mainly to buy water purification tablets and ensure basic maintenance of water facilities.

As public boreholes doted around most urban centers especially in Harare have become an alternative source for portable water, the WPUCs are unquestionably the best water governance practice thus far and must be adopted by all communities to ensure best hygienic practices and sustainable water governance in on public water points in communities.

This way the Tichagarika success story will be shared by many.

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