MATABELELAND NORTH– BUBI villagers expressed concern over the prevalence of humanitarian challenges among them health, education and domestic violence.
By Tafadzwa Tseisi
The outcry comes at a time when economic analysts are urging the ordinary Zimbabwean to brace up for tough times amid a national budget pegged at $3.85 billion.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Stakeholders Meeting facilitated by the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre (HIFC) recently, participants pleaded with government and relevant organisations to intervene.
One of the participants, Portia Ndlovu said: “Access to healthcare is a challenge as authorities always refer us to hospitals in Bulawayo.
“That we must raise money to seek medicine in Bulawayo is a mammoth task for us as we are struggling to eke out a living from our agricultural produce we lay our hope on government to intervene,” she said.
Echoing the same sentiments was Catherine Ngulube who lamented the death of a six year old boy who died amid revelations doctors failing to give him the needed medical attention.
Acting as the six year old’s guardian, Ngulube said: “The young boy collapsed at school and I had to rush him to the clinic where doctors on duty asked me to buy the required medical equipment to examine the child.
“Sad to note is the young boy died before I could amass the required $60 to buy the equipment for examining the child,” she said.
Although most people in Bubi District rely on agriculture to sustain their livelihoods, water remains a challenge. To reinforce this, participants bemoaned access to water for domestic use at household level and for gardening; this is an influential factor to food security.
Presenting the national budget for 2016, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said: “Apparently, the entrenched not in a hurry attitude has prolonged the necessary reforms and hence costing the country through foregone investments”
As if to back the Honorable Minister’s statement, female farmers from Bubi described lack of markets as a major set back.
In addition lack of adequate boreholes in Bubi district has forced women and children to walk long distances in search of the precious liquid. Children are going to and from school fatigued by the excruciating long distances.
This has resulted in some of them not performing well in their studies with some forced to do their homework under horrendous circumstances.
The stakeholder meeting coincided with the ongoing 16 days of activism against gender based violence and participants shared experiences on the impact GBV has among their society.
Unemployment proved to be one of the major contributors to of GBV.
“Life is difficult because we also have to look after our children and we [female farmers] are doing all we can to support our families by selling our farm produce.
“However we sometimes suffer in silence when our unemployed husbands come home drunk and abuse us after succumbing to pressure of taking care of their family,” said Sukoluhle Nyandeni.
Echoing the same sentiments was Women in Land-Bubi facilitator Fikelephi Fuzane who said: “The aftermath of gender based violence is traumatic for both women and children.
“There is dire need for men to be engaged in gender based violence discussions so that they comprehend its effects,” said Mrs Fuzane.
Most women with husbands who are working confessed that despite the negative impact GBV has on them and their children, their lives are dependent on the husband as provider.
I have been abused countless times and even though I report him [husband] to the police, poverty forced me to drop the charges because without my husband my family will suffer.
“Most girls in our district are forced to drop out when they reach grade seven because most families cannot afford Secondary education,” said a participant preferred to remain anonymous.
While some participants hailed radio and TV programmes on issues to do with health and farming, access to information remains a challenge in remote areas.
A cross section of participants hailed the meeting, urging HIFC among other organizations to empower villagers with information packages and amplifying their voices to government and policy makers, a move which will improve education, health, water and food security issues.