By Joneck Gwatiwa
Umzingwane district in Matabeleland South Province is home to Esikhoveni village, one of the two villages whose piped water schemes were identified for rehabilitation after early 2017 floods destroyed much of the village’s water supply infrastructure. About 300 households without safe drinking water.
The damage on infrastructure impacted negatively on the wellbeing of learners particularly girls who lost most of their study time lost as they had to walk longer distances to fetch water.
“Before the intervention, walking long distances uphill with a 20 liter bucket on our heads left us physically exhausted and emotionally spent,” lamented 16 year old Joyline. Odrie Ziro, Welt Hunger Emergency WASH Coordinator echoed similar sentiments revealing that the flood had impacted negatively on the lives of women and girls. “The energy that can be used for other activities is actually spend in trying to collect water from far down the valley. This has had more impact on the girl child as she does a lot of fetching as compared to their male counterparts,” she said.
Through funding from Government of Korea, UNICEF Zimbabwe partnered Welt Hunger Welfare in rehabilitating Esikhoveni piped water scheme and install a solar-powered system. An additional deep borehole was drilled to augment the old one. A 100 000 liter tank that supplies water to a village stretching over 12.5km was also rehabilitated. The piped water scheme removes the burden of distance as water taps are now within a 500m radius from the nearest households. “As a community that depends on agriculture they would not do their agricultural activities as they spent a lot of time going down the valley to fetch some water. That has changed now,” Ziro says.
The piped water scheme will also have a positive bearing on hygiene issues. Ziro explains
“When water is scarce, people have a tendency to use as little water as possible to wash their hands. They may even forgo the critical times you would want them to wash their hands, thereby risk diarrhea diseases. Now that water is at their doorsteps that risk is alleviated,” she explained.
The intervention also improved the lives of villagers in Ntabamuhlope village whose piped water scheme was also rehabilitated. The faulty electrical power system was replaced by a solar-powered piped water scheme which now guarantees the community a reliable water supply. Mandlenkosi Sigola, a visually impaired beneficiary, expressed gratitude at the development as it improved not only water supply but also hygiene. ““We are grateful for the water. I find it easier to keep my toilet clean as water is right in front of my house,” he said.
A Water Point Committee manages the piped water scheme and a constitution governing use has been drafted and will be discussed with community members before adoption and submission to the district. The committee will receive training on operations and maintenance. According to committee chairperson Nkosana Ndlovu, the training will be conducted by the end of November 2017.
In a sign of its commitment to sustaining the scheme, to the village has agreed to a monthly levy ofUS$0.20c per household towards maintaining the solar system and the water pump.