By Nhau Mangirazi
Villagers around Mushumbi primary school in Mashonaland Central province’s Mbire district now have solace in a solar-powered borehole that ‘protect’ pupils from attacks by crocodiles in Manyame river.
This follows installation of the solar powered borehole way back in 2016 to ensure constant water supplies.
Situated about 270 kilometres north east of Harare in the Zambezi Valley, the school is less than 40 kilometres from the border with Mozambique.
Headmistress Tsitsidzashe Mhondiwa, said the borehole was installed in 2016 through funding availed to the Lower Guruve District Council (LGDC), bringing relief to pupils, villagers and teachers in this area with average temperatures of above 34 degrees.
Previously, the school was having to endure costly rates to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) averaging $3,000 monthly.
‘It was becoming a financial burden (having) to pay rates to Zinwa. Solar is naturally available and as renewable, it is free,’ said Mhondiwa.
The headmistress said the borehole would assist in implementing pending gardening projects.
“We now have water all year round at the school. It was risky for young kids at ECD and lower Grades to fetch water from open wells and Manyame river,’ she said.
Established in 1995, Mushumbi school has an enrolment of 1,300 pupils from Early Development Childhood, ECD, to Grade7.
There are 28 teachers, the majority of them females.
School development committee chairperson Belinda Karaza, 39, welcomed the solar-powered borehole as a positive development and security measure for the school.
‘We cannot rely on water deposited with effluent into Angwa (river) where gold miners use chemicals. Borehole water is smart and clean … water that is accessible,” she said.
Karaza said plans are afoot to supply tap water to teachers’ houses.
‘We could not do this with water from an open river. This is a life changing experience for teachers here,” said Karaza.
‘We want our school to embark on viable market gardening, poultry raring as part of income generating projects to economically empower the school,” she said.
Sendekerai Mugwede ,50, a local teacher and an advocate of clean energy, said the solar powered programmes should be the ‘in-thing’ in lowveld areas such as Mbire, Chiredzi, Beitbridge and Hwange, among others.
“Zimbabwe is blessed with natural sunshine in lowveld areas such as Mbire here. We must take advantage of it. There should be good and sound policies for clean energy like solar that can be fed into our national grid,” said the Grade 7 teacher.
He challenged government to embrace clean energy policies in solar and windmill energy to curb hydro power challenges.
‘We must invest more in natural sunshine for the national benefit,” he said.
According to Renewable Energy Market Entry Study report released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017, Zimbabwe has the best solar radiation.
The report notes that access to electricity in both rural and urban areas of Zimbabwe is low and yet the potential for ‘renewable energy’ is ‘tremendous’.