The most recent statistics for Zimbabwe show that only 40% of the country’s 13 million citizens had access to improved sanitation facilities. Economic challenges, and a professional “brain drain”, are amongst the reasons for the low coverage.
However, the low numbers belie a level of effort on sanitation and hygiene progress in the country, which WSSCC is supporting through a Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) via its relationship with the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development (IWSD) as well as WSSCC’s National Coordinator in the country, Mr. Lovemore Mujuru of CARE International.
IWSD, led by Mr. Kumbulani Murenga, is a civil society and knowledge platform for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practitioners to share, learn and advocate for increased access to WASH services in Zimbabwe. IWSD is well known in Zimbabwe for capacity building on WASH issues (for practitioners through partnerships with academic institutions).
The SEP, in place since 2015, provides much needed financial support to radically change Zimbabwe’s WASH sector and has facilitated the development of the Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy, whose main goal is the elimination of open defecation. Despite extensive capacity building being provided by IWSD, the WASH sector faces many gaps in programme implementation. Consequently, the SEP has helped Mr. Mujuru mobilize the sector to discuss the critical issues.
Ms. Elizabeth Wamera, Programme Support Officer – Country Engagement, Coordination and Membership, just visited Zimbabwe as part of WSSCC’s SEP support work. She held meetings with Mr. Mujuru, National WASH authorities, the IWSD as well as community level actors.
Due to the economic challenges facing the country, the sector has experienced a major brain drain; most of the trained and experienced WASH professionals have left the country to work abroad, mainly in South Africa. The SEP thus set out to ensure that systems have an institutional memory and a framework for ensuring that generated knowledge is not lost, but captured and disseminated in a systematic way, whenever experts leave the sector.
A data harmonization process has produced a document that standardizes the definition of most key terms in the WASH sector and provides various ways of ensuring proper data is collected at various levels in the country. This process also highlighted several gaps, which led to the government revising its sanitation and hygiene policy. Now at its final draft stage, it is due to be presented to parliament for discussion by mid-2016.
The SEP also led to the development of three documents that would improve coordination and facilitate extensive learning and communication in the WASH sector. This process brought together all the WASH sector stakeholders, coordinated by Hasios Ronald Mashingaidze of the government’s National Coordinator Unit for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate. The documents, which are due to be launched in April 2016, are:
Editor’s Note: This article is based in part on the Zimbabwe chapter of the just-released National Coordinators Report. The report shows how WSSCC’s National Coordinators have increased the visibility, influence and engagement of WSSCC in some 16 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Their collective commitment has contributed to greater commitments from rights holders, duty bearers, the private sector and partners around sanitation and hygiene.
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