Boreholes Now HIV and Pregnancies Traps For Young Girls

THE prevailing water crisis in Harare and other parts of the country exposes girls and young women to HIV infections and early unintended pregnancies (EUPs) owing to the lengthy hours they spend in long winding queues and boreholes where they end up fraternising with individuals who harbor evil intentions.

By Michael Gwarisa

Speaking at the launch of the Harare Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA), Harare province acting provincial development coordinator Mrs Catherine Kampila said the water crisis in Harare had created a fertile breeding ground for risky sexual behaviour and early sexual debut in children and needed to be addressed before the situation spirals out of control.

We are talking about HIV here but we know that in our fight and in our endeavors to achieve what it is we are want to achieve, there are so many underlying factors that might need to be looked into. The awareness, yes it’s happening but we can talk about other issues for example the issues of water and lack of clean drinking water.

“It is no secret that at times people go to water sources late at night because maybe that is when the water will be available. We have seen people mingling at such sources up to maybe late at night and girls because they do most of the domestic chores spend time at these water sources. We have also seen due to lake of housing and proper accommodation grown up girls sharing a room with male counterparts in some less developed areas because there is no proper accommodation and the underlying factor might lead to what we are talking about today,” said Mrs Kampila.

Harare among other cities is currently battling a prolonged water crisis at the back of lack of water treatment chemicals and foreign currency to purchase the chemicals from foreign markets, a situation which has crippled the city’s ability to pump clean water into households.

“It’s a host of things that need to be looked into holistically and every one and every ministry should be involved because it affects girls, women, young children and even the old,” added Mrs Kamphila.

Even though data shows that Early Unintended Pregnancies are rife in rural areas and other marginalised communities, increased cases of pregnancies  are also being reported in urban set ups owing to a myriad of factors chief among them being the prevailing economic environment.

In an interview with HealthTimes, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO) National Programme Officer Masimba Nyamucheta said the current economic situation was also to blame for the rise in transnational sex and early unintended pregnancies.

 “Socio-economic status factors are key in driving child marriage and/teen pregnancies, and the poorest families are not in a position to afford basics in life such as education, water etc

“In the case of water shortages, most girls and young women spend most of their times in ques and sometimes unsafe places, hence become prone to abuse by men. In addition, transactional sex prevails, as the girls also try to obtain basic material goods that are otherwise unaffordable. These hardships and ensuing relationships place adolescent girls and young women at a high risk for unprotected sex, and hence pregnancy,” said Nyamucheta.

According to UNESCO statistics,  over 21% of girls aged between 15 and 19 were already getting pregnant leading to sharp increase in school drop outs in most parts of the country. Mashonaland Central has the highest rates of teen pregnancies with one in every three girls (aged 15 to 19) likely to become pregnant.

In 2018,  at least 411 primary school-going girls dropped out of school across the country. However, Zimbabwe pledged at the 25th International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) to put in place policies and mechanisms to reduce Early Unintended Pregnancies.


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