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‘Outcast suburb’ of 16 years: The story of Masvingo’s Garikai residential area

Makeshift Blair toilet in the Garikai settlement

Residents of Garikai residential area in Masvingo urban have lived as ‘outcasts’ for 16 years after commissioning of the area as they feel city fathers are neglecting them by failing to offer them social services other suburbs are enjoying.

Garikai housing scheme was commissioned in 2005 after the government launched operation Murambatsvina, a forced eviction program that saw the demolition of homes and informal businesses in the country’s major urban areas.

In 2013 it was reported that Masvingo City Council secured a US$2,1 million loan from National Social Security Authority (NSSA) that it promised to use to connect the Garikai housing project into the main city’s sewerage system, however, it has not yet materialized.

The area is located a short distance away from Masvingo city council’s dumping site which the local authorities are taking too long to decommission, residents said the site casts an unpleasant odor into the houses.

A visit to Garikai residential area by our news crew revealed that people have resorted to the use of surrounding bushes and open spaces as toilets.

It also revealed that residents are still using and sharing fewer water sources that were installed during the period when the houses were constructed in 2005.

Area committee chairperson Gertrude Mukokovondo said the unavailability of sanitation facilities in the area is a huge blow to the local women who oversee family welfare especially during this era of Covid-19 and is posing a health hazard to the local people.

“Women are mostly affected by the poor situation here; they are the ones who stay at home most of the time. We have a serious challenge when it comes to hygiene. The few blair toilets that people used to relieve themselves are full, people are forced to use bush toilets and it is causing air pollution making the area house fly-infested. The problem is doubled by the shortage of water. Before the coming in of Covid-19 the minister of state visited us, he saw our situation and we are still waiting for their action,” said Mukokovondo.

(Gertrude Mukokovondo speaking)

A local woman who identified herself as Svunurai Mugiyani said she is among hundreds of women who are living without a toilet in the Garikai area.

“As women who double as mothers, we are finding it hard to live without toilets. We need toilets and access to clean water. Even though Covid-19 is not caused by open defecation we are now fearing for other disease outbreaks like cholera,” Mugiyani.

(Mugiyani speaking)

Woman doing dishes with little water

Ndaizivei Mutero, another woman who resides in Garikai said the responsible authorities seem to be neglecting and discriminating against them.

“We wish to be like any other locations; we do not know what plans the council has with us concerning the issue of water. We wish the council could treat us like other residents in Masvingo urban. We are being told to wash hands regularly but we cannot follow such regulations here. The community has 100 houses; we wake up at 2 am to fetch water at a single water point. Each family is allowed to fetch only two buckets,” said Mutero.

(Mutero speaking)

A male resident who requested to speak on condition of anonymity said the area seems to be unworthy in the eyes of those in power.

“The area is despised by many. No one wants to associate with this place maybe because it is a ZANU PF old dispensation project,” he said.

 A senior male citizen in the Garikai area said they are finding it difficult to live with the bad odor that comes from the dumping site.

“Toilets here are a challenge; we have been talking about the issue since long ago. Even during the days of cholera, we have been living in fear. The council should provide us with a sewer system. We are also appealing to the council to deal with the issue of the dumping site quickly. It is hard for a human being to live while breathing bad odour,” he said.

Watch video here

In English the word Garikai can be translated to mean ‘live well’ however Garikai residents seem not to be living well without water, toilets, and the unpleasant odor from the dumping site.


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Chief Editor: Earnest Mudzengi Content Editor: Willie Gwatimba