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Document Type

Spotlight

Abstract

This article highlights the disproportionate impact of water scarcity on women and girls in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. We emphasize one Zimbabwean woman's efforts to implement a sustainable water solution for a community of 20,000 citizens. Lumbie Mlambo, Founder and President of the nonprofit JB Dondolo, Inc., took action following reports that people in the community her father was aiding were falling ill, mothers could not carry their pregnancy to full terms, and infant mortality rates were rising. Before Lumbie's intervention, the only water available was contaminated by polluted soil. Moreover, the climate change-induced droughts and floods made the potable water hard to find and collect. As a result, the only source of water infrastructure was at the Igusi birthing clinic and the nearby secondary school sharing the same pipe system. This lack of clean water particularly affected pregnant women who gave birth at the clinic and their newborns and the girls who attended the nearby school. Following her father's death, Lumbie set out to fulfill his dying wish to help the people he was serving. While she faced many obstacles, Lumbie overcame these challenges and removed barriers of access to clean water for the community. Lessons learned from this experience include gender biases in humanitarianism, community participation, and water resource management planning. Key recommendations include early stakeholder engagement in community development, elevation of women's voices, and investment in partnership building.

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