The Action World Solidarity funded: Resilience to the effects of Climate Change through IWRM in Southern Zimbabwe” project through training in water governance, gender awareness and Community Based Management has led to increased inclusion and participation of women in water point committees and other strategic leadership positions. Women spearhead all activities that promote efficient operation, service and maintenance of water infrastructure.
Before project implementation, water point committees were made up of 63% men and 37% women and yet women relate with water issues on a daily basis. Men, as conveners of meetings, by their virtue of being chairpersons set the agenda and dictated on how water projects were run. Women were voiceless when in came to the planning, implementation and monitoring of water projects. They were never consulted and could not make decisions on how water should be utilised. Men prioritised water for livestock and women continued to travel long distances to get water for domestic and productive uses.
In the past, women never used to air their views and opinions with regard to water projects because our culture could not allow them. Men had the power to formulate decisions”, said Madlala, Zhukwe West village farmer
As a result of the training conducted by Dabane, women’s confidence has been strengthened and their roles and responsibilities increased. Women have taken up meaningful leadership positions such as, chairpersons and treasurers that were in the past a preserve for men. They now make up over 86% of committee members in the six community irrigated gardens at GB1. The six gardens are Jekwa Ziphandeleni, Sizanani, Phakama, Emhlangeni, Bhejela 2 and Bhejela 3. Women are now consulted before major decisions are reached, such as the ones to do with water prioritisation during the dry season. In the past, water for livestock was prioritized during the dry season at the expense of community irrigated gardens, mostly, led by women. This resulted in conflicts among community members. Currently, dialogue meetings, facilitated by local leadership are held with both men and women on how water should be prioritised. This has led to positive resolutions being made such as reduction of number of beds cultivated by women instead of total shutdown of gardens.
The participation of women in water resources management has led to improved operation and maintenance of water sources. They encourage water users to contribute $1 a month, towards purchasing spare parts for improved functionality of pumps. The active participation of women in water resources management will ensure that their needs and priorities are addressed.