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Villagers Unite To Overcome Water Shortages

One of the dams constructed through community project based groups addresses water shortages affecting families including school children. Image by Victor Moyo

In Phumuza, Bulilima, the community has taken matters into their own hands to address the persistent water scarcity. Through collaborative efforts and self-funded initiatives, villagers have successfully drilled boreholes and constructed dams, empowering themselves with reliable access to water resources.

BY LYNNIA NGWENYA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAY 17, 2023

BULILIMA (The Citizen Buletin) — Every day, women and children in Phumuza, Bulilima, face the arduous task of walking several kilometers to access the nearest water source.

Using donkey carts as their primary mode of transport, individuals laboriously load buckets full of water one by one.

Among them is Sibiziwe Siziba who stays at Madimbugwa ward, and is a student at Bezu secondary school.

Siziba finds it difficult to balance fetching water at Tjankwa river, about 5 km away, with school.

“In many instances, we arrive late at school because we would have first gone to fetch water early in the morning,” says Siziba.

Villagers in Phumuza in the area walk around 5 km to 15 km to fetch water at Tshankwa and Maneha rivers.

“Rivers are too far for carrying water on the heads or pushing wheelbarrows. The best alternative is to use carts.”
Sibiziwe Siziba

Pretty Ncube, a local villager, says schools in the area also do not have boreholes to ensure a safe learning environment for their children.

“Everything is a struggle in our area, be it schools, clinics or water,” Ncube says.

“Schools in the area are not spared from the water shortage situation, children have to carry their water from home, upon which they would have walked many kilometers to school.”  

In the absence of government support, local villagers in Phumuza have banded together with the help of their children in the diaspora to address their water challenges.

Through Community Project Based groups, the villagers have successfully drilled five boreholes and rehabilitated eight dams.

A Phumuza villager who is based in South Africa and is also a Coordinator in the committee, Victor Moyo explains their intervention.

“We have accounts where we deposit contributions. Working with locals, we have drilled 3 boreholes and are in the process of drilling many,” Moyo says.

A Mzwanyane villager, Moses Dube, is grateful about the initiative.

A borehole drilled in the area...Communities are seeking to drill more of those to alleviate water challenges. Image by Victor Moyo

“We are very thankful for the borehole that was drilled in our area. Also, there is a dam that was put up nearby, our problems of walking to Tshankwa have been solved,” Dube says.

According to Dube, there is a pervasive sense of disillusionment with the central government and politicians' ability to address the ongoing water challenges in the area.
“We have a vision of seeing our children going to school without the stress of coming back to fetch water at far away rivers. As long as we work together, we will accomplish the dream. Putting too much faith on our political leaders has not borne any fruit. They give us fake promises,” he adds.
However, Ward 3 Councilor, Innocent Mavunela, feels that the community has sidelined  central government and the local authority.

According to Mavunela, such initiatives without Council involvement are a major health concern.

“People who reside in South Africa, because they have money, just come and construct dams and drill boreholes without the knowledge of environmental health procedures and protocols.”
Innocent Mavunela, Ward 3 Councilor

“We urge them to consult so that the Council can be aware and advise on what is happening.”

Dube acknowledges the concerns of the councillor, but accuses authorities of always seeing any development initiative with political lenses.

According to Dube, the project has not been easy, it has been a trying phase which needs “stubborn faith” and focus.

“Sometimes we face hindrance from the local council, we are said to be pushing political agendas,” Dube says.

ALSO READ: Villagers Mobilize to Construct Clinics to Address Healthcare Access Challenges

Dube says their journey towards addressing water challenges in the area has not been easy.

“Another challenge is that our area is very dry, in some instances we hire drillers and they fail to reach the water table, upon which we would have paid,” Dube says,

According to the coordinators of the initiative, the project has taught villagers the importance of working together as a team to address challenges peculiar to their area.

“People are now motivated to work together,” Moyo, one of the coordinators, says.

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