By Pamenus Tuso
The advent of solar–driven water pumps in Hwange district in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North province has enabled humanitarian organisations to undertake multi-sectoral projects that depend on water resources.
World Vision Area Development Programme (ADP) manager for Hwange district, Lovemore Nyoni, said solar- powered technology was “killing many birds with one stone” in the district.
“Solar energy is now able to solve many developmental challenges in arid Hwange. For example, in Dinde Ward, we have installed a solar pump which is supplying water to the clinic and two neighbouring schools within the vicinity.
“The solar water pump is also supplying a 1, 2 hectare irrigation scheme which has transformed the lives of many villagers in the area,” said Nyoni in a recent interview.
The water from the pump is also used for watering livestock as well as for domestic purposes such as washing. Nyoni said the introduction of solar-powered energy not only in the area, but the in country, has also opened up a new window of future solar energy opportunities in the area.
“Right now we are brainstorming on how we can channel solar excessive power to generate simple lighting that can be connected to the nearest schools.
“This power will allow the locals and particularly school going children to charge their phones and access internet services. This initiative will definitely empower rural children especially the girl child,” he said.
Solar power technology has managed to address nutritional, water and food shortage challenges in the area. Like a number of other areas in Zimbabwe, Hwange district is dry and underdeveloped. Most households are characterised by low incomes, poor sanitation and hygiene, deplorable education levels and low food security.
Nyoni said his organisation is currently phasing out diesel powered pumps in some parts of the district and replacing them with solar pumps.
“Under this programme, we are targeting boreholes which use diesel pumps and replacing them with solar pumps. By replacing these pumps, we are essentially addressing the constant breakdown of diesel powered boreholes as well as the issue of fuel costs.
“Diesel pump systems are not sustainable for a long time and this affects water availability,” said Nyoni.
World Vision is also replacing manual boreholes with mechanised solar driven boreholes.
“With solar driven pumps, it becomes very easy to connect the whole system to a simple piped water system. Women and children no longer spend long hours doing manual pumping at boreholes. So this system saves on both labour and time,” added Nyoni.
Grace Mudenda, a mother of five children from Mwembe Ward in the district, hailed the mechanised boreholes saying they have brought relief to women and children in the area.
“We used to spend a lot of time at the borehole and pumping is gruelling.
“With the introduction of solar powered pumps, it is now very easy and fast to get water. Instead of queuing at the borehole we … now spend our time doing other chores,” said Mudenda.