Water access policies: probing water access policies and positive peace in a Zimbabwean rural setting.
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This study sought to establish the correlation between water access policies, informal practices and positive peace. The study was carried out in Village One, Ward 11, Mhondoro-Ngezi District in Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe. It was grounded in qualitative research using the Sequential Mixed Model method. Stratified purposive sampling was used to interview 20 Village One residents (10 men and 10 women) – from a total of 203 adults – to achieve a measure of gender balance and to make responses more representative. The study also interviewed 5 key informants from the Mhondoro-Ngezi Rural District Council. Participant observations, documentary analysis and questionnaires were administered to provide triangulation of data. Deductive content analysis and thematic analysis was used to discuss findings. The study used the theory of positive and negative peace, common property resource management theory and conflict transformation theory. Content analysis of texts revealed that Zimbabwe’s water policy and related laws protect the rights of the citizens, encourage participation in their formulation but the provisions are hardly implemented. Findings revealed that participants understand some aspects of positive peace in relation to water access. Informal practices also shape people’s access to water through the effective use of local rules, although most of these rules are now being disregarded. Findings showed that there remains a gap between water supply and access. Findings also revealed that the use of informal practices is more effective to water access for productive uses, while formal water institutions can usefully work towards drilling of boreholes. Participants lack information about water policies and institutions, as communications are always confined to political leaders and government technocrats.