Accessing good quality water in hazardous mining environments: coping mechanisms for young women in selected districts of Mashonaland central, Zimbabwe.
The study focused on how environmental degradation due to unregulated illegal mining activities is affecting the welfare of communities in general and women in particular with regards to access good quality water. The methodological design was a qualitative approach and focused on the two districts of Shamva and Bindura in Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe. The study noted that the area of environmental policing has remained weak and compromised owing to a combination of factors, key among them being the difficult socio-economic environment which has often seen a lot of communities destroying the environment around them, political populism leading to the destruction of local ecologies and general disregard of responsibilities by companies operating mining, construction, and other enterprises.This has seen the gradual destruction and pollution of fresh water bodies across the communities.The study revealed that there is a considerable level of pollution on some water bodies in the two districts. The pollution is largely caused by the use of mercury and cyanide by the illegal gold panners and artisanal miners in the area. This has restricted opportunities for women’s access to safe domestic water. Women are using strategies such as outsourcing from neighboring communities with relatively safe water for domestic use, differentiating water for cooking and drinking and for other activities like bathing and laundry, water harvesting during rain seasons and buying from shops in extreme circumstances. In conclusion, the coping mechanisms only offer temporary relief and are not be sustainable in the long run.
Keywords: Hazards, Coping Mechanisms, Mining, Environment, Legislation, Kyoto Protocol, Human Right