We publish below the full Statement by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York.
“Zimbabwe joins the global community today, to take stock and assess progress with the implementation of agreed targets for the Water Decade, specifically SDG6. In Zimbabwe, Water is a key Constitutional right for every citizen. Additionally, water is an economic enabler for development in line with our country’s vision of becoming a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society by 2030. Water has important linkages with sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, health, environment, tourism and energy.
“Mr President, regrettably, at the current pace, despite our own efforts, Zimbabwe and many other countries will not achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 on availing clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the FAO recently successfully held an Africa Regional Conference on Water, to interrogate the catalytic role of the five Accelerators of the SDG6 namely (i) Financing, (ii) Governance, (iii) Data and Information, (iv) Capacity Development and (v) Innovation. These Accelerators undergirded performance of Water in Health, in Sustainable Development, in Climate Resilience and Transboundary sub-sectors.
“Mr. President, increasing water demand due to rapid population growth, increased urbanization, and increasing water needs for agriculture, industry, commerce and energy exacerbate an already insalubrious situation. Climate change is worsening and intensifying water-related disasters, creating complex challenges and threatening lives and livelihoods, particularly for the vulnerable. Over the past two decades, climate-related disasters have intensified, floods and cyclones have increased affecting clean water availability and food and nutrition security and hydropower generation and derailing efforts around building sustainable and resilient communities and societies.
“In response, the Zimbabwe Government has developed various strategies to ensure water availability and build resilient agricultural systems. Our Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Plan targets to increase dam construction and area under irrigation by over 60% by 2025 in addition to adopting climate-proofed intensive conservation agriculture at the smallholder level. These strategies have now enabled Zimbabwe to become food secure again after decades of perennial food insecurity. This includes self-sufficiency in maize and wheat, the major staples.
“The water-food-energy-environment nexus has seen Zimbabwe embarking on an ambitious water harnessing programme and we are constructing 12 major dam projects harnessing 1.9 billion megaliters to deliver hydro-electricity, harnessed potable water supply, fisheries and irrigation water for rural and urban development.
“Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Government has launched a transformational borehole drilling programme whose objective is to drill a borehole in each of the country’s 35 000 villages and 9 600 rural schools. This will ensure that women and girls do not have to walk long distances to fetch water. On the sanitation and hygiene front, Zimbabwe is implementing a community/demand-led sanitation and hygiene promotion campaign. Resultantly, 77.8% of the population have access to clean water and 63.8% have access to sanitation services. We aim to accelerate universal access to WASH services my government continues to mobilize internal resources towards the implementation of these critical projects.
“The Zimbabwe WASH Sector governance architecture has been overhauled and strengthened to improve coordination and efficiency. To strengthen WASH Sector investments, regulation and coordination, the Water and related Acts and standards are being reviewed to strengthen planning, management and regulation of the sector in line with international best practices.
“Mr President, regarding transboundary cooperation on water, the Zimbabwe Government is collaborating with regional countries to strengthen transboundary water courses management. On the international front, the Zimbabwe Government, is pleased to join the over 130 Member States who have appealed to the UN Secretary-General, to appoint a UN Special Envoy for Water. Vulnerable regions such as Africa will immensely benefit from this initiative that will spotlight Water.
“Mr. President, to consolidate the gains achieved at the national level, we require urgent investment in dam construction, irrigation development, underground water abstraction, and increased investments in rural and urban water supply, investments in innovation, increased financing, better governance as well as strengthening and collaboration for the management of transboundary water. Capacity development, shared data collection and information sharing are also vital investment destinations Investments should also guide and integrate indigenous knowledge systems with modern integrated water resources management strategies.
“Mr President, With the requisite political will, increased investments and better collaboration, we indeed can generate the required momentum to achieve the SDG6 targets and much more. To conclude, let me reiterate that the Decade for Action for Water, and this mid-term review Water Conference, present a unique opportunity for the international community to take stock of progress, illuminate challenges, highlight opportunities, collectively mobilise the requisite political will, commitment and resources to accelerate the transformation of water resources management for the achievement of SDG6.
“Zimbabwe stands ready to work with like-minded countries and partners beyond this watershed Conference, to collectively deliver on the water actions set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“I thank you.”