By Watmore Makokoba
Residents of drought-prone Chiweshe Village in Buhera, Manicaland Province, are breathing a sigh of relief following the revival of a previously dormant water scheme.
Marking a major stride in the implementation and promotion of green renewable energy, solar pumps are being used to pump water from a refurbished borehole at the base of the nearby Bepe Hill.
The water is pumped into a 150 000-litre water reservoir, about 200 metres up the mountain before being released into the pipes that feed 38 water points in the three villages.
Said Francis Hazvinavarwi, 73, of Chiweshe village, who used to walk more than 8 km to fetch water:
“Our prayers have been answered. I never thought I would live to see the day when running water would flow out of our taps again. This will change our lives in many ways.’’
With assistance from USAID’s Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Hazvinavarwi’s dream of seeing his village transformed through access to clean, safe water has been realised.
The 17-kilometer piped water scheme roared back into life at the beginning of April, providing water to 327 households, two schools, a clinic, a dip tank and a business centre serving thousands of people.
OFDA contributed $60 000 towards this project which is being implemented by UNICEF and managed on the ground by World Vision, as part of efforts to build resilience in drought-prone communities in the wake of last year’s worst drought in southern Africa.
According to Arnold Mawirera, secretary of the committee spearheading the project, three more villages stand to benefit from the scheme.
“After losing many lives to cholera, this solar powered project water will transform our lives. Beyond improving community hygiene and access to safe water, the clean water will also be used to attract business to the area which will be charged separate tariffs while villagers are being encouraged to start market gardening activities and other projects such as bread-making,” said Mawirera.
For Raramiso Chigome, an elderly woman take care of an extended family consisting of 11 members, the water project is a huge relief.
She recalls an altercation that took place two months ago between her daughter and another woman over who should be the first to draw water from the then only water source in Mwerari River.
” It was so bad and embarrassing and sometimes it was so bad to give visitors water (from that source),” she said.
Headman of the area, Arkshow Mupariri, applauded the project as an empowering initiative that will see the whole district at large benefitting.
” Water has been our biggest problem even though we are surrounded by two big rivers. We are poor people and this scheme is a big development for our region and people are being empowered,” he said.
Maurice Chidavaenzi, a technician with UNICEF’s Water and Sanitation and Hygiene, said the solar equipment comes with a 25-year guaranteehowever tight security is in place following vandalisation of the previous equipment in 1992.
Following assurances from government that the water source will not dry as it has been the case since 1962, the future can only be brighter for Chiweshe villagers after years of persistent droughts.
Such initiatives are critical towards attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 to ensure access to clean water and sanitation in the next 15 years.