Environment & Climate Change

Children enduring effects of Climate Change

Life for the young boys and girls in rural Zhombe and Silobela is not easy, but hardship endurance as the day breaks, these young boys and girls have to brave it out by walking several kilometers in search or to fetch the precious liquid, water. Water in rural Zhombe or Silobela is a hard to get precious commodity that drains all the juices in one’s body, soul and spirit in mostly children and women who endure the effects of the ever- shifting climatic changes that are slowly ‘eating’ away the daily normal trends and social fabric of a rural set up in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.
“Our nearest borehole developed a mechanical fault five years ago and noone has come to repair it yet. Even though if the borehole is repaired, not much of the precious water is pumped out as the water table is way very low. If DDF( District Development Fund) can come and drill deeper to reach the ever shifting depth of the borehole. This area Dendera, Zhombe, Zimbabwe is a very dry, has sandy soil and water table is very low”, said a villager Mpumelelo Ncube.
Veronica Khumalo, 12 years of age from Dendera Village walks two or more kilometers to the nearest community borehole in search of water and comes back tired , carrying a 20 litre bucketful of water. She is not the only one as most young boys and girls if her age are ‘abused’ by parents or guardians as most of these youths are no longer attending school as Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown disturb most daily routines and lifestyles. This is a sad story of most rural children in Silobela and Zhombe who face such daily daunting tasks of fetching for water by walking long distances, depriving them of their children rights as they will not have time to play or do their homework.
Their plight is a manifestation of climate change effects, particularly the scarcity of water and is negatively impacting on rights of children living in rural areas as they endure the daily physical strain of carrying heavy containers of water, transverse long distances in search of water, exposing them to diseases like cholera and other water borne diseases. Climate change effects impact children’s lives and health. Indirectly climate change may affect children’s rights such as right to education. For instance, if a child does not have water to bath he or she has to wake up early in the morning to fetch water, their levels of concentration at school are mostly low. At times their chances of attending school are low as they spend time queueing for water. Most of the children spend their much of their time fetching water than playing or doing their homework.
The right to play, the right to education, the right to health and the right to protection amongst many others have been violated because of water scarcity. Nothando Sibanda a 11 year old boy from Matshikitsha, a village in Silobela near Kwekwe, Zimbabwe narrated how water scarcity has negatively affected him as he spends most of the time at a community borehole kilometers from his village, where he is bullied and sometimes waits for hours as older boys come and fetch water ahead of him although he had been the first in the queue thereby taking advantage that he is a young boy who cannot stand for himself.
“At times others come to the borehole without wearing masks and do not practice social distancing and thereby exposing me and others to Covid 19.Scarcity of water affects us in many ways, we are always bullied at community boreholes, I sometimes wait for long hours before my turn comes to draw water”, said Nothando Sibanda.
Scarcity of water affects general hygiene and sanitation is also reduced further compromising children’s rights. Rural communities need to be empowered with skills that enables them to practise water harvesting techniques skills and conservation of water. Water that runs in streams during the rainy season must be trapped by construction of water reservoirs that will be handy in times of water scarcity. Environment and climate change education and information must be availed to communities to avoid escalation of climate change drivers. There is need for reversal of the effects of climate change and assure the next generation of a better life.

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