The relationship between HIV and AIDS and water scarcity and variability in the Nyamakate area, Zimbabwe : a political ecology approach.
There is a dearth of knowledge on how water scarcity and variability and HIV and AIDS concurrently impact on rural people’s livelihoods. Hence, this research seeks to understand the experiences, responses to, and interpretation of, the Nyamakate households to the complex relationship between HIV and AIDS and water scarcity and variability on their livelihoods and social well-being in the context of political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. The research was conceptualised within a post-structuralist political ecology framework. The study was carried out in the Nyamakate resettlement area, Zimbabwe. The study adopts a qualitative methodology, as it was deemed to be the best in understanding lived experiences and realities constructed by the social actors. The study conducted semi-structured interviews with: 40 households; 10 key community informants; 3 key stakeholder and 8 focus group interviews. The study also makes use of geographical information systems in mapping out households and the water points. The preliminary results of the study indicate that no one is denied access to water resources in the Nyamakate area. All the respondents indicate that water resources in the Nyamakate area were declining hence complicating access to water. HIV and AIDS affected households had problems accessing water since much of their time was spent in caregiving. In the upland area, people had to travel long distances to fetch water which was a major problem to HIV and AIDS affected households who had to travel at night when the patient is asleep and other family members can help in caregiving. Some community members dislike people to wash linen used by an HIV and AIDS affected person at the water point. As a coping mechanism to water scarcity, the people have set up water point committees that regulate water access and utilisation. The committees levy the community for any repair to water points (boreholes and wells) and this adds to the financial burden of HIV affected households. The Nyamakate community receives help from one non-governmental organisation which provides food to people on anti-retroviral program. Communities were asked by Mvura/Manzi Trust to dig wells (on a once-off basis) and the Trust provided cement to protect the wells. Some of the wells dug were dry due to poor siting by the community members, who used traditional methods of surveying for the water. The local council has provided the communities with borehole parts, but the communities have to transport these on their own. The council cannot provide adequate services to the community because it does not have the funds. In conclusion, HIV complicates the ability of households to access water in Nyamakate and this has potential to exacerbate other opportunistic diseases, especially diarrheal diseases. Furthermore, water scarcity in the lowland is mainly a result of infrastructural problems.
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