Almost 2500 people, 60% of them being women from Chipinge, Chimanimani and Buhera in Manicaland North east of the country are accessing clean and safe water after the drilling of nine boreholes by ActionAid in partnership with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA). The community water sources have since the introduction of mining activities in the areas in 2009 been under threat of pollution. Mining companies were depositing their waste materials in the Save, Odzi and Devure rivers where the communities were drawing water for domestic use and for their livestock over the years.
Women in these areas walked long distances to obtain water from the nearest boreholes. This has become a thing of the past following the ActionAid Zimbabwe and ZELA intervention. The boreholes will also provide relief to these communities’ livestock which were dying at alarming rates due to drinking polluted water.
Women who benefitted from the borehole interventions expressed their gratitude over the developments in their areas. Mavis Karenyi, from Chimanimani district who lost close to 50 cattle said during the commissioning of the boreholes in Chimanimani on 11 May 2016:
“We are very happy because of this development in our community. We used to walk more than four kilometres to get water for cooking and drinking. Our livestock did not have safe and clean water to drink but now we have the new borehole just a stone throw away from home.
“I had over 50 cattle in 2008 prior to the coming of mining activities in my area. In 2009 my cattle which drank water from the polluted rivers died one after the other. I am now left with two cattle only.”
The nine boreholes were commissioned in Chimanimani with Save-Odzi Women's Forum, a watchdog group of women formed to monitor the effects of mining activities in the area witnessing the official handover of the boreholes to the community by ActionAid. Other members of the community, traditional leaders, rural district council representatives from the three districts were also present.
The installation of the boreholes in the three districts is part and parcel of a broader ActionAid and ZELA project which promotes the protection of environmental, social, economic and cultural rights of communities living in mining areas of eastern Zimbabwe. It seeks to address the environmental damage being caused by diamond mining companies and the violation of the environmental, social and economic rights of people living in poverty in particular vulnerable women, men and children who live along the Save River, Devure and Odzi Rivers.