NGO fights for thirsty widows and orphans

A local non-governmental organisation has embarked on a campaign to conserve water in the city to help alleviate difficulties faced by widows and orphans.

Gweru has been hit by a critical water shortage following the reduction of water levels in the Gwenhoro dam, a major supply source. As a result, the council has been rationing supplies to households.

But, according to city engineer, Johns Nantambwe, instead of consuming 20,000 cubic metres of water every day as expected, the city’s population used 34,000 cubic metres in October and November, the hottest and driest months in Zimbabwe.

The city and its immediate surroundings are now relying mainly on Amaphongokwe dam, but the city’s limited pumping capacity from this source has forced it to reduce supply.

Local charity, Hopeful Life for Widows and Orphans in Africa Trust, has put the focus on a water conservation programme.

Alice Shiri, the trust’s director, said they planned to work with several other groups in the campaign, including the council, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Environmental Management Agency and Zesa.

“We want to try and change the residents’ attitude towards water conservation. Extravagance in the use of water in the current circumstances hugely affects widows and orphans because there have no other means to get water,” she said.

“They have no money to buy water from supermarkets for basics like drinking and neither do they have the energy to source the liquid elsewhere. It is these problems that make us want to help these marginalised groups.”

In the past, the organisation has helped widows and orphans with a variety of welfare issues. It has, for example, worked with the Gweru general hospital to bring doctors from private hospitals to offer services to more than 150 widows in Shurugwi and Gweru.

The trust’s projects officer, Pavel Macebo, said the campaign would be extended to encourage energy saving.

“We believe that promoting behavior change through community participation is the key to lessening the problems of marginalised groups.

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