Water crisis: EFZ answers the call, but . . .

Some Mutoko residents have to walk as far as 3 kilometres to get to a water source, which at times provide water that is not safe to drink and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe has stepped in to eliminate this perennial problem through the commissioning of boreholes.

The organisation, which is an umbrella body of over 300 churches, has drilled five new boreholes, rehabilitated 28 and are expecting to rehabilitate 54 more by end of this year.

Under the Water for Life In Jesus’ Name Program, EFZ which has adopted Mutoko for its Wash interventions and is focusing on borehole rehabilitations as well as drilling new ones.

Headman Evaristo Chihota of Chibeta Karimazondo lamented on the water problem facing Mutoko.

The town covers 4 740 km2 in the Mashonaland East province and is a relatively dry area.

“Water is the major problem here, if only God could have mercy on us. I cannot celebrate much when I know that in surrounding areas people are struggling for water,” Mr Chihota said after the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe had commissioned a borehole at Tabudirira Secondary School in Nyadire.

Mutoko has 29 wards falling under communal, small scale farmers and resettlements.

People in these area rely on farming maize, cotton, tomatoes, beans and recently tobacco.

Though some Mutoko areas receive adequate rainfall, the larger areas are covered under Region 4 and 5 where rain is very scarce. This negatively affects the ground water.

According to DDF district Water Technician for Mutoko, Mr Elton Mureverwi, the major challenges of water are being faced in areas where small scale farmers were settled.

Mr Mureverwi said this is because most of the boreholes in these areas were drilled and fitted in the early 80s when people were being resettled, they are now depleted.

In the drier areas, Mr Mureverwi said the people cannot get any water from wells because of the low water table.

“There are still people walking long distances of more than 500m to get water.

“For instance in this resettlement area, people used to stay in villages before being resettled on plots.

“Now you find that their water source is still at the deserted village. As a result, some travel for 2 kilometres to get to a water source,” noted Mr Mureverwi referring to the village of Charumbira.

Mutoko was one of the hardest hit areas by the cholera outbreak of 2008 and 2009.

Worse still, the rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene Sector programme has not yet covered Mashonaland East, thereby leaving Mutoko in a desperate need for water.

According to the council chairman, Mr Zano Kahuni who worked as a councillor of Tabudirira for three years, efforts had been made to locate an area with an accessible water table for the drilling of boreholes.

“80 percent of our body is water. If we can’t find water we won’t have life.

“The water problem has been prevalent for a long time and something needs to be done,” Councillor Kahuni said.

Instead of supplying only 250 people with water, boreholes in these areas have been sustaining as much as 152 households.

Councillor of Nyamhanza Ward 19, Mr Tafirenyika Mburundu, said his ward now has 18 boreholes through the assistance of EFZ.

The ward stretches for close to 60 kilometres and shares borders with Headlands, Mudzi and Nyanga.

“We tried to dig a well but it didn’t work. Teachers were transferring up until now due to water challenges.

“This ward still has water problems and I hope that those who have come will help us at least until we have an above 50 percent access to water.

“There should be over 40 boreholes to make the situation better,” Councillor Mburundu said.

Zimbabwe is home to 12.97 million people with 70 percent of that population living in the rural areas.

According to the latest Wash Sector Status Overview of 2009, water coverage in the rural areas is estimated at 61 percent.

It goes on to highlight that there is low investment in rural rehabilitation and community management.

Mutoko District Administrator, Mr Isaiah Mukamba said the Government welcomes organisations that are willing to partner them in the drilling of boreholes of eradicate the water shortage problem.

“Today we are here because the EFZ is helping us. Each and every organisation has a duty to play and people shouldn’t always cry for the Government to do everything. Rather it should be people asking what they can also do for their communities,” Mr Mukamba said.

Member of Parliament for Mutoko East, Cde Ricky Mawere-Mubvumbi said it was beyond the community’s imagination that they could have a borehole.

“No one thought this place could have a borehole. This was a game park so it had been meant for animals during the regime of (Ian) Smith.

“So there was no infrastructure planned for it. So I am saying let’s pray so we could have those who ensure that the small things like deep tanks are available. EFZ has touched us, very few organisations think in this way. These churches are supporting the Government,” Cde Mubvumbi said.

Programs Officer at EFZ, Mr Kuda Kurashwa, said they have training programmes on sanitation and hygiene, management of water points as well as maintenance for the community to take ownership of projects.

“We then have what we call the spiritual way of doing things, all the boreholes we drill have to be commissioned to the communities through crusades.

“The idea is we provide the Word and water inseparably because the church must have some kind of impact and relevance in the community where they provide the spiritual aspect as well as address the physical needs of the communities,” Mr Kurashwa said.

Zimbabwe’s water policy which was approved in 2013 points out that the overall goal of the water sector is to achieve sustainable utilisation of water resources that in turn will improve equity in access to freshwater by all Zimbabweans and the efficient use of water among competing users.

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