THE provision of vital services such as water and health is of paramount importance to humanity, as people’s survival has been hinged upon them from time immemorial.
And, when these services are moved closer to the society, life is made easier for women who for aeons have suffered double tragedy as besides battling with male chauvinism, are forced to brace hardships in performing household tasks.
African tradition has relegated women to household roles and chores among others hence they bear the brunt of all challenges associated with them.
These include walking long distances to fetch water, taking care of children including taking them to distant clinics, washing clothes, cleaning and cooking just but to mention a few.
Although Sustainable Development Goal number five requires countries to recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate, most women in the country are still spending more time on domestic work with limited access to social services.
Access to water is one of the services which have improved lives of residents of Kazimzumbwi Village in Kisarawe District, Coast Region, making life easy for women in the area.
And, one of the beneficiaries is none other than Habiba Rashid, a mother of one.
Currently, she runs a small business near her home, which has helped a lot in boosting income of her family.
She earns between 15,000/- and 20,000/- per day, through selling vegetables, fruits, dried fish, coconuts and charcoal.
The 27-year old Rashid started her business a few months ago after realising that she had ample time, despite doing other chores.
“I could not do this business before because I had no time to go to town to buy the merchandise ... I spent most of my time fetching water and doing other household chores,” she said.
She added that access to water was one of the challenges facing her village, but currently the situation has normalised because the residents are getting water from deep wells and rain water harvested since the previous rain season.
“Villagers normally dig ponds in valleys for collecting and storing rain water... this has helped a lot because we are still using the water we harvested last year,” she said.
She added that apart from using the water for domestic purposes women have also engaged in vegetable farming to boost the income of their households.
“We thank God that this year has been different because water is no longer a problem up to this moment and we can also do farming for shorter term crops such as vegetables,” Ms Rashid narrates.
“Before that it became difficult for us to think of doing any business such as farming and poultry especially when water was not available due to time limitation,’’ Amina Mwinyimvua (30) said that access to water has changed their lives at the village, because people especially women have more time to do other activities such as vegetable farming or other businesses.
She said during the period where water was a problem no woman was concerned about business except for those who had people to assist them in their businesses, because most of the time was lost in searching of the precious liquid.
“People used to walk between four and six kilometres fetching the precious liquid and those who failed to go and collect water were compelled to spend between 500/- and 700/- to get a bucket of water from vendors,” she said.
Zena Khalfan is among women in Kazimzumbwi Village who are engaging in vegetable farming.
“ I decided to engage in this activity because we are currently having enough water to carry out the business; we normally dig ponds to collect rain water which has helped us a lot, not only for domestic use but also for farming purpose,” she said.
She said in the past few years it was difficult to find people especially women conducting farming activities except when it is raining but now they can do the activities even after the season has passed.
Despite efforts that lead to availability of water such as digging ponds to collect rain water, drilling wells, the villagers are concerned that the situation is different during dry season where they are forced to spend up to five hours to get a bucket of water, which is not even enough to cater for the family needs.
Kisarawe District Water Engineer, Mr Majid Mtili said that the government was implementing various water projects to boost supply of the precious liquid in the area.
He noted that the district geology poses a huge challenge in drawing underground water, adding that efforts were underway to reduce reliance on wells and concentrate on the construction of dams.
Mr Mtili cited Chole water project which upon completion will boost water availability by 4 per cent. Kisarawe District Executive Director (DED), Mr Mussa Gama said water availability in his district in the past four years was below 20 percent, but various initiatives undertaken has helped to improve the situation.
He said the study conducted in 2009/2010 by the Kisarawe District Council in collaboration with Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) identified two water sources namely deep wells and dams .
The DED said that the construction of two dams of Minaki and Vikumbulu has been completed while the construction of Chole dam is underway and upon completion it will supply water by 75 percent in Chole Ward .
Mr Gama further explained that the council has finished drilling two water wells at Kilunya and Msanga and construction of other water sources were underway.
“All these water sources including Gwata and Mafizi have helped to boost water supply in our district by 40 to 60 percent although the national target is to attain 85 percent coverage ,” Mr Gama said.
He, however, noted that Dawasa was currently implementing another mega project of drawing water from Upper Ruvu and upon completion, all water projects will boost supply to 86 percent.
Minister for Water and Irrigation, Prof Makame Mbarawa said recently that the government through the implementation of Water Sector Development Programme II (WSDP), was expected to spend 7trl/- to make sure that all remote areas were supplied with clean and safe water.
The WSDP II aimed at increasing water access in urban and rural areas. Speaking recently during a water stakeholder’s forum held recently, Deputy Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ms Stella Manyanya, said water projects would be implemented accordingly provided women were also closely involved.
“If women were to be involved more on this, we would be assured that these projects would be implemented accordingly. It is women who suffer the most from water shortages,” she said.
Apart from getting water villagers in Kazimzumbwi also enjoy health services through a dispensary constructed in the locality by the government.
The National Health Policy 2007 requires every village to have a dispensary and a health centre in every ward, to enable the citizens to access the services near their localities.
Maria Solomon narrates how the availability of health services at her village has made their lives easier as they don’t go far away to access the services.
Villagers are now accessing all the primary services at the facility including maternal. Ms Solomon, a mother of seven, narrated that between 1970s and 1993s the situation was critical because villagers were accessing medical services at Kisarawe District Hospital approximately ten kilometres from her village.
“Pregnant women were forced to walk to the district hospital to access maternal services and taking the children to hospital whenever they fell sick,” she said.
“I was forced to give birth to my sixth child in a bush after failing to reach to the hospital, due to the distance, but I thank God because the baby survived,” she said.
She added: “Things have changed nowadays because people spend less time to go to hospital and return home to continue with other activities; we are no longer worried of the medical services because they are available in our villages except for few cases which need to be referred to the district hospital,” she said.
Juma Dudu, a resident of Kazimzumbwi Village said that the availability of health services has reduced inconveniences which were encountered by villagers when in need of medical attention.
Dudu who is a photographer, said that when a patient was admitted to the district hospital it was difficult for the family responsible to travel to and from the hospital to supply the patient with other services such as food.
“The services are now available in our village … for me it is only three minutes walk to the dispensary; this has helped a lot in reducing time used to access the services at the district hospital.
Kazimzumbwi Division Chairman, Mr Saidi Kifyagi said health services in the locality have improved compared to the past after the new facility became operational.
He noted that in the past, villagers depended only on the district hospital which is far from the locality. “Lack of water and health services affects development because more resources and time are spent instead of concentrating on economic development,”.
District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Jonathan Budenu said that, Kisarawe District has continued to implement the 2007 National Health Policy, which required every village to have a dispensary and every ward a health centre.
The DMO said so far the district has managed to provide health services by 67 per cent. Mr Budenu noted that before the establishment of the health facilities, some people were travelling up to 24 kilometres but to date the services have been moved closer, only in few areas where people are walking between eight and nine kilometres in search of the services.
He said that the council has made some inroads to make sure that each health facility has a skilled medical personnel.
“We have managed to move from twenty six dispensaries to thirty one which are operational and other eight are at different stages of construction.
We also have five health centres and a district hospital.” Kisarawe District Executive Director, Mr Mussa Gama said the sector has undergone major transformation since 2015 to date.
“So far, Kisarawe District has its hospital, there are three health centres namely Manerumango, Mzenga and Masaki and the construction of the fourth health centre of Homboza is underway,” he said.
Mr Gama further noted that there were also ten dispensaries which are at different stages of construction. Despite government efforts to improve the health sector in the country, such as construction of health facilities, provision of medical supplies and employment of health personnel, but the sector is still facing some challenges.
In some areas, people were still walking more than five kilometres in search of services and some facilities are facing shortage of skilled health personnel.
The government has taken initiatives to improve health sector in the country. The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu said that the government was working hard to make sure that every Tanzanian has access to quality health services.
The government, she said, in the past two years constructed about 7,282 health centres countrywide and construction of other facilities was still ongoing in various regions in the country.