The World Water Day And World Met Day Commemorations

I feel greatly honoured to address you on this important occasion to mark the World Water Day. Every year on the 22nd of March, the world unites to celebrate the importance of water in people’s lives in Zimbabwe and the rest of the sub region we remember water and the floods. The Day provides an opportunity for stakeholders and policy makers to interface reflect and focus on pertinent issues related to water, including its availability to the end users.

Since 1992 when the World Water Day was set aside by the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio DE Janeiro, Brazil, the day has been punctuated with various activities meant to raise awareness on water issues.

The theme for this year is “Leaving No One Behind”. The theme has been adapted from commitments that United Nations Member States have made under the auspices of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the theme is therefore, a clarion call on member states to accelerate action towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which enjoins Member States to take practical steps to achieve universal access to water by all by 2030.

The 2019 World Water Day theme therefore, rallies all of us, especially the policy makers, to ensure that efforts to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are inclusive and take into account the concerns and voices of the previously overlooked groups such as women, children, the disabled, the poor, the old and the other vulnerable groups in society.  The theme cannot be more apt, taking into cognisance the ever increasing numbers of people lacking access to water, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. This theme is congruent with Zimbabwe’s current trajectory to transform the country into a middle class economy by 2030.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the global challenge today is that billions are still living without safely managed water in their households, school, workplaces farms, factories etc, etc.  Women, children, refugees, those displaced by natural causes such as our people in Ngangu, Kopa Tsholotsho, Mbire and many others are overlooked as they try to access safe water. As we reflect on today, we need to ensure that we the right to safe water and sanitation is must for the full enjoyment of life.  We should thus never leave anyone behind.

The Government of Zimbabwe, through my Ministry fully embraces this concept of leaving no one behind.  This is why our country, in line with Dublin Principles of water resources management came up with some of the best statues and water resources management Instruments that recognise the diverse needs And interests that have to be delicately balanced when planning, developing , utilising and distributing water resources.

Today, we see Zimbabwe as one of the few countries where water resources management has been taken to the lowest appropriate level through the stakeholder driven Catchment |Council System. The system empowers communities to decide on the development and utilisation of their water resources and ensures that these lower-tier structures are representative of the diverse interest groups in society.  This is why in terms of the ZINWA Act (Chap20:25), the ZINWA’s ten member Board of Directors has 4 seats reserved for members nominated by catchment councils.

The 2019 World Water Day theme is coming at a time when Zimbabwe has made and continues to make strides in the development of water resources in a highly inclusive manner by prioritising neediest areas and addressing existing and potential disparities and access gaps. This is evident in the various water infrastructure development investments that the country has carried out since independence.  Dams such as Osborne Dam, Bubi-Lupane Dam, Matezva Dam, Mtshabezi Dam, and pipe line, Wenimbi Dam and Pipeline, Mundi Mataga Dam, Mutange Dam, Tugwi Mukosi Dam, among others, bear testimony to this.  This development with equity approach that Government took, is meant to ensure that no one is left behind.

Currently we are in the process of implementing a number of water resources management projects that will certainly transforms the lives of millions of Zimbabweans as we march towards 2030.  These projects include the Marowanyati Dam in Buhera, Manicaland; Semwa Dam in Rushinga, Mashonaland Central; Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North; Bindura Dam in Mashonaland Central; Tuli-Manyange Dam in Matebeleland South; and Chivhu Dam in Mashonaland East.

These projects, which are wholly financed by the Government, are aimed at addressing some of the existing gaps in the areas of water for agriculture, domestic use and other industrial purposes. Sectors such as agriculture, energy, tourism and mining all stand to benefit from these projects. Ultimately, the projects will help address issues of food security, employment creation and poverty alleviation.

On the portable water side, Treasury has availed US $18 million to be administered through the World Bank for the rehabilitation of selected water treatment plants around the country.  The upgrading of water and wastewater treatment plants in Guruve, Mashonaland Central; Zimunya, Manicaland; and Lupane, Matebelaland North, under the World Bank administered Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund Project which is almost complete, will improve water, sanitation and hygiene services by thousands of citizens in the towns.

In addition to these interventions, we have a deliberate water pricing policy that is designed to ensure a delicate balance between affordability and accessibility.  To ensure that we leave no one behind, the current pricing regime has ensured access to water by the vulnerable groups.  Rural water supply is far cheaper than urban water supply and commercial water supply.  This approach meets the needs of the marginalised groups who usually bear the brunt of being left behind.

May I end by challenging each one of us to reflect and act on the following global facts figures given by UN Water, in 209:

  • 2.1 Billion people live without water at home;
  • One in four primary schools have no drinking water services with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty;
  • More than 700 children under five die every day from diarhorrea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation;
  • Globally, 80% of people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas;
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten household’s with water premises;
  • About 159 million people collect their drinking from surface sources such as ponds and streams;
  • Around 4 billion people (two thirds of world population) experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year;
  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced as a result of water scarcity by 2030!

Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow the 23rd of March, the World celebrates World Meteorological Day and Zimbabwe will join the rest of the world in commemorating this very important day.  The theme for this year’s celebration is The Sun, the Earth and the Weather.

The sun is the heart of the solar system. Positioned nearly 150million kilometres from the Earth, the Sun keeps our planet warm enough for living things to thrive.  It delivers the energy that powers life n Earth. The Sun drives the water, ocean currents and hydrological cycle. It is truly a driving force behind weather, climate and life on the Earth. The Sun can provide an alternative source of energy, which can be harnessed even in cloudy weather.  Solar energy is indeed used worldwide and is increasingly becoming popular for generating electricity or heating and delaminating water.

This year, we are celebrating the World Meteorological Day under very challenging weather  conditions in Zimbabwe and the sub region at large. The 2018/19 rainfall season has seen the country receiving normal to below normal rains for moist of parts of the country thus putting the country under severe weather related stress.

As if this was not hardship enough, Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in our beloved nation as well as our neighbours precipitating His Excellency, the President, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, declaring a State of Disaster in respect of the affected areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the cyclone led to the loss of human life, livestock, infrastructure and other valuable property. Weather stations and Water infrastructure  was not by the cyclone and a number of water supply stations and equipment were extensively damaged due to flooding.  If as a people we did not take climate change as real, this is certainly a wakeup call to all of us. We should start thinking about how we can adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change.  As a Government we should start thinking about Flood control, housing structures, dam designs in order to minimise the effects of future disasters.

I wish to end my statement by thanking all the Cooperating Partners, Civil Society Organisations, UN Agencies, Government, Private Sector, Faith based Organisations, Well-wishers and Individuals who have donated in cash and kind to support this cause.  I also want to thank our National Response and Coordination structures, Provincial Civil protection Team, ably supported the Provincial Joint Operations Command (JOC) who have coordinated and spear-headed this operation well. While we still have some ground to cover, I am confident that together we will succeed.

I THANK YOU

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