Urban Water Disconnections Affects Rights of Women, Girls, Elderly and People with Disabilities

Citizens who attended the virtual MIHR WaterPoint Conversation this week have called on local authorities and government to find better ways of enforcing water bills payment than resorting to water disconnections as the practice violates fundamental human rights and freedoms o- especially of women, girls, the elderly and people with disabilities.

This week’s virtual conversation which was held on whatsapp and was attended by 174 participants from various parts of the country including Bulawayo, Lupane, Gweru, Masvingo, Wedza, Rusape, Harare, Plumtree, Gwanda and Mutare – was under the topic: gender implications of water disconnections in urban areas.

Participants argued that water disconnections violate human rights and especially the right to health care, the right to human dignity, the right to food and water, among others.

Meanwhile participants further noted that it is important to encourage residents to pay their water and council bills as non-payment cripples the ability of local authorities to provide quality water services. The further recommended that:

(a)    Central government should support local authorities in water service provision by meeting some costs;

(b)    Residents need to be educated on their responsibilities especially regarding paying water bills;

(c)     Local authorities should craft water service provisions that consider the plight of the elderly and child headed families;

(d)    Local authorities need to deal with corruption in order to develop a strong social contract with residents.

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