The dry tale of Muzarabani

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Mirirai Nsingo

Monica Moyo comes across as obstinate as she makes the trip to fetch water from a shallow well.

However, she is praying that fortune favours her as supply at this well is unpredictable as it is unsafe – the well serves the community’s livestock too.

Luck is on her side; she manages to fetch a muddied half bucket of water.

“It is better than nothing,” says Moyo with relief written all over her face.

The irony is, she lives in a land whose name suggests that water is ever present – Muzarabani.

Muzarabani means swampy.

Moyo, is one of several villagers in Chiwenga Ward 24 of Muzarabani district in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central Province who face acute water shortages and are continually exposed to the risks that come with using unsafe water sources.

Despite government interventions, with support from development partners, the water crisis has become a perennial problem in this area.

“We walk for more than 15 kilometers to get water from the few boreholes we have in the area. The other option we have is to fetch water from these shallow wells,” adds Moyo as she makes the trip back home.

In Muzarabani women and children bear the brunt of the water woes as they carry the responsibility of digging the shallow wells as well as fetching water.

The men are rarely seen in this equation!

While Section 77 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution states that “every person has a right to safe, clean and portable water and the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right”, Muzarabani North legislator, Zhemu Soda concedes that providing water in his constituency is no easy task.

“The situation is so terrible such that Mudzimu Primary School was almost closed due to the water crisis.

“The long term solution would be the use of more water solar powered pumps while drawing water from Mukumbura River as well as Mavhuradonha,” said Soda.

Recently the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society installed a solar-powered water system which covers Chiwenga Primary School and Chiwenga Clinic but much more still needs to be done.

ZRCS secretary-general Maxwell Phiri believes water powered solar projects could be the answer.

 “We had to ensure that the clinic has a consistent supply of water hence this water project. But this does not cater for the whole community considering that the area is generally dry,” he said.

The councillor for Muringazuva Ward in Muzarabani, Norma Chizeya revealed that some desperate villagers sometimes sleep at boreholes.

“The droughts we have been experiencing have not helped matters,” said Chizeya.

“On the other hand the boreholes we depend on are very old and in constant need of repairs. This has resulted in villagers being asked to pay money for the maintenance.”

Councillor Chizeya believes the construction of a dam in the Mavhuradonha Mountains where a site was proposed in the late 1980s could help alleviate the challenge.

But until a permanent solution is found Moyo and her fellow villagers have to contend with using unsafe water sources, walking long distances to fetch the precious liquid and occasionally spending the night at the few functional boreholes in the area.