Civil Society and Residents’ Coping Strategies with Water Shortages and Household Food Insecurity in Gweru, Zimbabwe


  • Heinz Beckedahl University of KwaZulu Natal, department of Geography, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • Sumaiya Desai University of KwaZulu Natal, department of Geography, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa



Community Gardens, Coping Strategies, Food Insecurity, Urban Areas, Water Bills, Water Shortages


Domestic water shortages are distressing many urban areas in developing countries and require well planned and sustainable coping strategies in order to bequeath citizens decent lives. The objectives of this paper were to identify water related civil society groups present in Gweru; reveal devised coping strategies to combat water shortages and household food insecurity; and challenges faced by civil society and residents in obtaining sustainable coping strategies. A survey was conducted through interviews, questionnaires and observations as data collection instruments. The findings show that residents relied on borehole drilled in their respective areas by the municipality, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and through individual initiatives. Although public boreholes were available, they were found at an average of only two in a given residential area, regardless of its population. Residents also collected water in containers during late hours of the night or early hours of the day. Gweru residents in addition devised strategies to cope with household food insecurity caused by water shortages and high monthly water bills. Combined with the aforementioned water shortage coping strategies, the stratagem by residents included coming up with payment plans, denying city personnel access into their premises for water disconnection; and self-reconnection in the event of disconnection. Community gardens initiated by Non-Governmental Organisations and food imports from neighbouring countries were some of the adaptive mechanisms dealing with household food insecurity. However, despite resolute efforts by civil society and residents to muddle through water supply and food security challenges, the city needs financial aid to enhance service provision that does not solely relying on residents. Financial injection and investment in sustainable alternative water sources for the city’s multiple uses will go a long way in solving the water shortages and food insecurity without further exposing citizens.  

Author Biography



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