Edmund Rice Society Advocacy in Bulawayo

Fifty teenagers inspired by the Edmund Rice Society held a street march in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) in September to urge the residents of the city to lower water consumption.

The city of Bulawayo has an estimated population of 1.5 million people. Rainfall in the previous year failed to provide adequate water volumes for the four dams that supply the city and silting of the dams has also contributed to the water supply problem.

Edmund Rice Society members from three schools persuaded others to join them in marching through the streets with banners. An estimated 150 people took part including the mayor, representatives from the municipality, students from other schools and three NGOs.

Fundraising was carried out to raise money prior to the campaign some of which which was used to provide 1000 pamphlets with water conservation tips for distribution to residents. A police escort provided safety for the students, and media coverage of the event was arranged.

In response, the City Council announced that the dams were at 39% capacity but warned that the water level in the dams would be too low to sustain the city by the end of December. It also pointed out that 1 500 litres of water is lost each day through leaking taps and announced the introduction of new fines for exceeding consumption limits, for using municipal water for construction purposes, for using a hose for washing vehicles and for using municipal water for farming.

Sustainable consumption was also the theme of an inter-schools public speaking competition involving twelve schools in Bulawayo organized by the Edmund Rice Society and followed an anti-vandalism campaign in March.

With fundraising already underway for advocacy campaigns in 2011 to continue address issues such as water and energy conservation, veld fires, albino rights, vandalism of public infrastructure and distressed children, it is clear that much is being done to conscientise students on social justice issues and engage in advocacy.

(thanks to Passmore Chingwere from St Patricks College, Bulawayo for the information for this article)

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