Dzivarasekwa residents were treated to a feast of interactions with their duty bearers on issues to do with the provision of services that are affordable, accessible, adaptable and available to the needs of women recently. For some time now, Dzivarasekwa residents have been having challenges in terms of access to social services such as water, electricity, street lighting as well as house ownership. Dzivarasekwa is a peri-urban suburb west of Harare.
ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) together with its partners Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and AIDS Counselling Trust (ACT) provided the opportunity for the Dzivarasekwa residents to have a public dialogue on the theme: Making Public Services Gender-Responsive as they commemorated the United Nations Public Service Day on 23 June 2016.
The dialogue served to assess the status of public services and their impact on the needs and priorities of women and girls in the various communities in Zimbabwe. It was also a platform for citizens to engage with the duty bearers and policy makers in identifying opportunities, challenges, mapping the way forward and possible areas of collaboration given the various roles and responsibilities each player holds in making service delivery gender responsive.
Dzivarasekwa residents highlighted different issues among them street lighting, water shortages, waste collection and the inconsistencies when it comes to house ownership,. Alice Kasinamunda of Dzivarasekwa 4 expressed the need for authorities to address such issues with urgency,
“In Dzivarasekwa we have serious water shortages and the women are the ones who fetch water and if they go to the boreholes they face harassment from men who will dominate and take advantage of them at the water points. While on their way back from fetching water the street are poorly lit which poses a great danger to women again.”
“Our authorities should attend to these issues because they need urgent attention. Litter is not collected religiously which poses a great danger to our young children who play around these dumping sites and once a child is affected it is the mother who runs around getting the child to the clinic,” she said.
Lizzy Sabeta of Dzivarasekwa also highlighted that people in Dzivarasekwa were living in overcrowded spaces. Because of economic difficulties, young families cannot afford to move out of their parents’ houses and start on their own. At the end, a small four roomed house could be housing more than 15 family members. Lizzy went on to highlight that women were being taken advantage of in terms of house ownership,
“Many women in Dzivarasekwa are now widows and many of them are failing to pay for council bills. The council repossesses these houses from them because women lack knowledge and are not informed on the steps to take to avoid this,” she said.
Dzivarasekwa is one of the old dormitory towns in Zimbabwe and over the years population in this area has increased and the number of people available outweighs the number of houses or rooms available.
Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson Beatrice Nyamupinga who also graced the event among government representatives said women needed to be alert on the issue of housing and ownership. She committed to look at improving members of parliament’s oversight role to improve the living conditions in Dzivarasekwa,
“Families cannot share basic requirements like toilets. We cannot have a family of 15 people sharing just one toilet. This will only raise rape, gender based violence as well as HIV and AIDS issues with young women and girls being the victims,” she said.
Stressing on the need to make public services Gender-responsive honorable Nyamupinga said: “How can a man understand women's needs for clean water when he does not go out and que at water points, wait for hours to get water and walk long distances back home. When it is women who maintain the sanity of homes and understand how much water is important for their households.