Residents in Hwange’s Ngumija suburb who had gone for 20 years without running water recently received a shot in the arm after a well-wisher drilled a borehole for the community. The area which is under National Railways of Zimbabwe concession saw residents travelling several kilometres in search of the precious liquid while some would use unprotected sources.
The ward like other areas has been relying on water supplied by Hwange Colliery Company, however, due to the challenges bedeviling the coal miner which led to lack of rehabilitation of infrastructure such as pipes and pumps, water supplies have been curtailed. Residents told CITE that so dire was the situation that they were now accessing water from unprotected wells and leaking pipes in the bush while open defecation was now rife.
“Our situation was now beyond bad. We could not get water for drinking and cooking but to also use in flashing the toilets. People were now fetching water from open wells or leaking pipes while the environment had become polluted from open defecation. Here and there, there have been outbreaks of cholera and dysentery over the years especially among children due to the unavailability of water. NRZ has been failing to address the issue forcing us to walk several kilometres in search of water,” said Norman Ncube.
Women said there were most affected by the predicament as they had to spend long hours searching for water and sometimes would carry bucketfuls of water over long kilometres.“As you may be aware women carry the burden of looking after the family in terms of day to day chores such as cooking, washing, fetching water and nursing children. This water crisis had been dealing us a blow as we were forced to ensure water was there for the whole family and that meant walking and spending long hours searching for water. Some of our children especially girls were falling prey to abuses from men while in search of water.
This donation of a borehole will go a long way in ensuring that there less time spend being unproductive,” said Miriam Phiri. Ward councilor, Albert Sibanda said his ward has been without running water for the past 20 years, a development which was exposing residents to waterborne diseases and Covid-19.
“Ngumija has been without water for between 20 to 25 years. Our source of water is Hwange Colliery Company who pump it from Zambezi river to here. So over the years we have been receiving little or no water in most instances as a result of challenges with getting the water from Deka or Zambezi. Water is life, residents have obviously suffered sometimes going as far as TJ or number one village to get water. Since most residents are employees of NRZ, the company has been assisting with water tanks by rail up to certain points such as TJ which is some 9km away. This meant people had to travel those distances to access the water hauling it using wheelbarrows or incurring costs of hiring a vehicle to transport it,” said Clr Sibanda.
He said the intervention by a local Roman Catholic Church priest who had mobilised resources for the drilling and installation of storage tanks had brought the much needed relief to residents who were toiling under the circumstances. “Currently a borehole has been drilled which is 80 metres deep I and other stakeholders who include the residents put our request to our local priest who later sourced donors to which we are grateful. The tanks and submissive pump are also part of the donor package and it’s a huge benefit to the community in terms of nutrition gardens that will be established and assurance of daily supplies of water nearby. Residents don’t need to walk long distances or use the bush which is now heavily polluted with human waste.”
Hwange Residents Trust coordinator, Fidelis Chima said the development was commendable arguing that the crisis was affected mostly women and girls by exposing them risks of sexual abuse and Covid 19. “The drilling of a borehole is a welcome move. Ngumija residents used to walk from house to house with buckets in search of water and exposed girls to abuse. They were also in danger of contracting Covid 19 and it has been difficult for the residents to really adhere to the WHO regulations especially on washing of hands. This also inconvenienced a lot of women who spent most of their time searching for water for cooking, washing and bathing. NRZ was relying on water supply solely from Colliery and as you are aware the company has dilapidated water infrastructure that needs to be rehabilitated.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology