Clean water dream come true for Mlibizi community

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu recently in Binga

THE Mlibizi community in Binga District has finally gained access to clean water after decades of relying on Mlibizi River.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)’s water reticulation system, which had only been operating at 40 percent capacity due to incapacitation, was refurbished and upgraded.

The system now has two distribution systems, one for raw water and the other for clean water, benefitting the community, schools and clinics.

The project, funded through the Climate Adaptation Water and Energy Programme (CAWEP) with £13,6 million from the United Kingdom and is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the Government playing an advisory role through its various Ministries and departments.

It is being implemented in Binga, Insiza, Chipinge and Chivi districts and will last until November 2025.

Raw water supports a recently established 20-hectare irrigation and four one-hectare irrigation gardens while clean water is distributed to the community.

A 65km water pipeline and pontoon have been installed along Mlibizi River, while a 90kw solar array has also been installed at the abstraction point.

An 80kw solar array has been installed at the midway booster and water pipes and valves have been replaced in addition to the installation of water pumps.

A 750 cubic litre storage tank for raw water has been constructed, while storage tanks have been mounted at schools and clinics.

The project is being funded by the United Kingdom to the tune of 13,6 million pounds,

In a recent interview during a media tour organised by the UNDP, Zinwa engineer responsible for Hwange Service Centre, Mr Jepson Masimba, stated that the project had contributed to a modern water system that conserved water and was easier to operate.

The system’s improvement has afforded the community access to clean water, which will improve their lives and the broader health of the area.
“At the treatment plant, we were not pumping at full capacity, but following the introduction of this project, we are now running at full capacity. We used to rely on small pumps which couldn’t reach all the intended areas and now we have added new pumps at our various pumping stages,” he said.
“We did reticulation extensions where an addition of a network of pipes was added into the system so that we can supply water to as many areas as possible. More storage tanks were also constructed.

“Water is now reaching as many people as possible in the three wards being serviced by this treatment plant. Solar arrays have also been installed which is helping us to ensure undisrupted pumping even during power cuts. Some of our pumps are running on solar while some are using electricity, which means we can pump throughout the day,” said Mr Masimba.

Chief Saba said in the past, people from his community did not have access to clean water and their only source was raw water from the Mlibizi River.

He said this was a great health risk considering disease outbreaks such as cholera. Chief Saba said the improvement of water supply would usher in a new era that will improve livelihoods.

Zambezi Secondary School headmistress, Ms Thabita Muzamba, said the water has brought a huge relief to the learners and staff.

“This school was established in 2014 and we had never had water. Learners were bringing water from home while teachers walked about seven kilometres   to fetch water from the river. Water is a basic right and we are relieved that our institution can now access it,” she said.
UNDP communications officer, Mr Anesu Freddy, said the broad idea of the CAWEP programme is to ensure that no one is left behind, hence Binga was selected to benefit from the programme. He said the target is to bring social amenities closer to the people.

Mr Freddy said improved access to water is key in the attainment of Vision 2030 adding that it is one of the major pillars of the National Development Strategy 1.

“We have connected water to 10 schools, one clinic as well as the community, to improve access to clean water. We came in to support Zinwa to increase the capacity so that the community and institutions can have access to clean water,” said Mr Freddy.

“The immediate change we have seen is that instead of learners coming with water to school from their homes and teachers walking seven kilometres to get water from the river, the water is now available at the school.

“Instead of the community walking to the river to fetch water, they now have community taps nearby. In the long term, we know that there are some more ripple benefits in terms of girls’ hygiene and gender equality,” he said. — @DubeMatutu

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