December 12 2008

SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe distributes water containers, water purifier and soap to community members

12/12/2008 - SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe, in partnership with UNICEF distributed water containers, water purifying tablets and soap to 240 households in the Budiriro suburb of Harare on 11 December.

Photo: Valerie Jans
SOS social worker explains how to use water purifying tabletsĀ  - Photo: V. Jans

SOS Children's Villages, Zimbabwe, in partnership with UNICEF, held their first distribution of 20 litre water containers, water purifying tablets and soap. During distribution at the Budiriro community hall 240 households received the items which will help with providing safe water for drinking and cooking.

The 240 families are already identified as vulnerable and are benefiting from the SOS Children's Villages family strengthening programme, one of the ways in which the SOS Social Centre Waterfalls partners with needy children living in one of the communities near the SOS Children's Village Waterfalls, Harare.

A member of the city's health department explained how to use the water purifying tablets and shared with the community how to remain safe during this outbreak of cholera. Visiting SOS Children's Villages Netherlands representative, Ms Valerie Jans, posed the question of what the City of Harare Works Department was doing to address the underlying cause of the outbreak which is poor management of sewage and inadequate provision of safe water. The local authority representative was unable to explain what action is being taken to deal with the crisis.

Photo: Valerie Jans
Community members waiting for the distribution of water purifying tablets, soap and water containers - Photo: V. Jans

"Emergency measures such as the supply by UNICEF of safe water to various distribution points in the area are not sustainable; work needs to be done urgently to improve the water and sewage systems. Supply of water by bowser to affected areas is merely short term relief for residents," commented Gary Birditt, director for SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe.

However, families who received the items were pleased to be in a situation to be able to protect themselves better from cholera after the distribution. Belter Muchongwe said,"I now have a storage for water. I could not afford the [water purification] tablets but now I can clean up with soap and safe water."

Lizzie Madhimba, a widow caring for her children and who is in extremely difficult circumstances expressed her feelings: "SOS you know your job. This is transparent with names so that everyone gets container. It was difficult since I live next to drains full of sewer. I am happy you gave me tablets to prevent cholera."

Photo: Valerie Jans
Smiling despite the desperate conditions - Photo: V. Jans
Mary Rombedza, a thirteen year old orphan who is being cared for by her elderly grandmother said, "I will put one tablet in container, well done keep it up!!, when I get home my grandmother is going to be happy", demonstrating that she had understood the instructions on how to use the water purifying tablets.

Sylvester Tsikira, a widower caring for his children alone and without employment summed up the feelings of many community members. "This is going to add more years to my and my children's life on this earth!"