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Rural communities struggle to stay indoors

Call for COVID-19 open data

By Dumisani Nkomo

Rural communities are finding it difficult to adhere to the lockdown measures as some of their chores require extensive movement.

In response to COVID -19, the government enforced a national lockdown to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. The lockdown restricts movement and ensures that citizens stay at their homes except for those whose services fall under the ‘essential’ criteria. The lockdown regulations stipulate that movement to shops should be within a 5km radius. However, the applicability of some of the lockdown measures has proved to be difficult in a rural setup.

A majority of rural households do not have water or electricity and community members walk distances to access water from the nearby water points and fetch firewood away from their homes. Some citizens walk distances of more than  5km to access water from boreholes or wells. Some also walk long distances to the nearest shops or health facilities. Other tasks such as herding cattle to grazing pastures which the citizens are burdened with cannot be done within the homestead.

The climate-induced drought has also contributed to the challenges faced by rural communities. In Matobo Ward 9, some villagers reportedly walk from St Anne to Nyongolo area to access water while in Nkayi Ward 22 villagers from Hompane area walk over 5km to the nearest water point. In Tsholotsho Ward 9, most community members have resorted to fetching water from open water sources as there are few boreholes  

Therefore it is evident that rural households cannot be confined to their homesteads or spend the whole day indoors under this lockdown as most of their basic services are accessed outside their homes and even beyond the 5km radius for some. The recent COVID-19 death from Mhondoro District, a rural area in Mashonaland West poses far-reaching impacts in combating the community spread of COVID-19 in rural Zimbabwe.

Habakkuk Trust continues to urge rural communities to practice social distancing even as they carrying out their daily chores and practice good hygiene.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende