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ZELA Press Statement: Groundwater–making the invisible visible

Date of Issue: 22 March 2022

Today is the World Water Day which is running under the theme, ‘Groundwater–making the invisible visible.’ We commemorate the day while raising awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water. Now more than ever, we need to take action to tackle the global water crisis whose scarcity is the biggest economic and societal risk. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Access to clean water is a basic right that is important for the survival of humanity, yet it can be one of the hardest resources to attain. Zimbabwe has not been spared from the water crisis which has affected people’s rights to water and sanitation as well as other related rights, including the rights to life, food, and health. Under Section 77 of Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution, “Every person has the right to safe, clean, and potable water.” The Government is obligated to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of available resources, to achieve the progressive realization of the right to water. Zimbabwe is also a party to regional and international human rights treaties that recognize the right to water and sanitation.

However, it is saddening to note that poor service delivery by local government authorities is emerging as a major threat to the right to water. As we commemorate the day, we also take time to remind the Authorities of their obligations to improve service delivery, reduce corruption including developing and enforcing transparency and accountability measures regarding the allocation of finances and expenditures. The citizens while being encouraged to pay for the services will only do so if these are religiously rendered.

In addition, water plays an important role in ensuring equitable, sustainable, and productive rural economies. Fifty-three of the Sustainable Development Goals 169 targets have a link to groundwater. For instance, SDG target 2.4 on sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices relies on the availability of ground water. Good groundwater management is needed to achieve SDG target 6.6 to protect and restore water-related ecosystems.

As climate change worsens, groundwater found underground in aquifers, sands, and gravels will become more critical.  Demand for water will continue to increase, and it has been estimated that by 2030 nearly half of the population will live in areas of high-water stress, which will result in the displacement of populations. Now is an opportune time for technological development, to create jobs in the operation and maintenance of treatment plants to reclaim water. As we commemorate the day, we are also being encouraged to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource which is being affected by many challenges including pollution. Its sustainable use will balance the needs of people and the planet.

One of ZELA’s strategic objectives is to contribute to improved business practices and local service delivery especially healthcare, water, and sanitation through promoting accountable, responsive, and democratic local governance systems and responsible investments. Therefore, the organisation is committed to influence policy, legal and planning processes on the environment and natural resource management for improved local service delivery. Through its local service delivery and governance programme, ZELA is empowering communities including community monitors to effectively engage their Authorities using different tools provided by the organisation. 

On this World Water Day, we as ZELA call upon:

·       Local authorities working closely with the Government to ensure the citizens enjoy environmental hygiene, as an aspect of the right to health. This includes taking steps to prevent threats to health from unsafe and toxic water conditions.

·       The Government to craft, adopt and implement comprehensive and integrated strategies and programmes to ensure that there is sufficient and safe water for present and future generations. Such strategies and programmes may include reducing depletion of water resources through unsustainable extraction while ensuring that proposed developments do not interfere with access to adequate water.

·       Duty bearers and citizens work towards the preservation of wetlands as these are important to ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation, freshwater availability among others. Therefore, it is important to encourage actions to conserve and restore them. 

ZELA remains determined to use environmental and social service delivery issues as a window to promote good governance and democracy at local and national level.

END//

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

Celebrating two decades of promoting environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection.”

For Further Information, Please Contact:

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

26 B Seke Road, Hatfield,Harare,Zimbabwe

Website : www.zela.org  |Twitter: @ZELA_Infor | Facebook: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

Tel: +263 242 573 601-3

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