Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
THE summer heat has compounded water woes in Gwanda district in Matabeleland South province.
Humans and livestock share a few boreholes as there are few dams in the district despite the fact that there are many rivers.
Villagers say there is a perennial scramble for the precious liquid from August until the start of the rain season and it is almost the survival of the fittest. Those into income generating projects like brick moulding and community gardening have to abandon their projects as the demand for water reaches a peak .
A recent visit to rural Gwanda areas like Ngoma, Manama up to Nhwali revealed a sad state of affairs.
In ward 20’s Ngoma Village, people were jostling to fetch water from a single borehole while about ten men were struggling to assist a cow that had collapsed before reaching a watering point.
A villager, Mrs Khaitoe Mathe says the area has few boreholes hence people were struggling to get the water.
“The main problem here is water as we share it with livestock throughout the year because our dam is small and does not hold much water. This borehole supplies 44 homesteads and their livestock. We are failing to do self-help projects because there is no water. We had a community garden here but is now idle because there is no water,” she said .
Mrs Celiwe Moyo of Mhalipe Village under Chief Marupi in ward 20 said fights sometimes break out as people lose patience waiting for their turn at the few boreholes.
“This borehole is overwhelmed because it serves 40 homesteads and our livestock. We have to take breaks in between as at times the borehole is pumped dry. We have many goats in this area and providing water for them is a challenge. Our community leaders have tried to allocate people days to use the borehole but because of the heat it is difficult to follow the schedule. We all need water everyday,“ she said.
Mr Freddy Moyo from the same village said water shortage was the main cause of hunger in the area.
“On a good rainfall season we are able to grow enough to feed our families but that happens after five or more years. We therefore need water for irrigation in drought years if we are to be guaranteed enough food all the years,” he said.
Mr Moyo said because of the water challenges most people spend long hours at the few boreholes instead of working on the land to prepare for planting.
Ms Enelesi Ndlovu said they are losing some of their livestock due to lack of water.
“We are losing our livestock because of water shortages as there is no substitute for water. The issue of lack of pastures can be addressed by buying stockfeed but without water it is imposible to save our livestock. Can anything good happen to our young people when all they do is spend the day at the borehole?“ she asked.
Ms Ndlovu said people have to wake up early in the morning and sleep very late waiting for their turn to fetch water.
“Akulalwa ngapha, (We hardly sleep). Some people now prefer getting water during the middle of the night while others wake up at 2am to fetch water for their livestock,” she said.
Villagers said the solution is to drill more boreholes and the area’s advantage is that the water table is close to the surface.
Mr Leonard Dube said Government should avail resources to drill more boreholes to provide water for both domestic use and watering of livestock.
“ We need support from Government to drill more boreholes so that we have enough water for people and livestock. We are like abantu abawomileyo kodwa inyawo zisemanzini, This borehole is shared by 75 homesteads, about 400 cattle and several goats,”said Mr Dube .
A non-government origination — Practical Action recently moved in to assist in addressing the water challenges in ward 16 which covers the Kafusi and Matanamombe villages, ward 20 made up of Mkhaliphe and Ngoma villages and Ward 24 which covers Hwali and Stakeng villages.
The project apart from providing water for domestic use, will also provide water for income generating projects like community gardens.
The organisation’s project manager Mr Patrick Thondlana said the objective was not only to address the shortage of water for dometic use but also water to enable communities to engage in projects such as gardening in order to improve food security.
“Water is a serious problem in this area and the worst affected are women since most of their husbands are away working in either South Africa or Botswana,” he said.
Mr Thondlana said under the project, each family will be assisted to establish a two- hectare garden that will be irrigated by water pumped using solar energy.
“This project has a bias towards women who are heading most families in this area and are therefore breadwinners,’’ he said. — @thmkhust