ZVISHAVANE – With the 2016/2017 agricultural season having been characterised by above normal rainfall and flash floods across the country, surprisingly Zvishavane which is in the agricultural ecological regions four and five suffered a dry spell.
A visit to the small mining area showed dry river beds which had filled with sand mostly due to siltation caused by stream bank cultivation.
Villagers of Matenda in ward 18 of Zvishavane said water in the area was so rare, even borehole drilling would sometimes not help.
One villager who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday said the areas that had water were very far away from people.
Josphat Manda said women and girls were most affected by the water scarcity as they performed household chores which always required the precious liquid.
He said the children spend most of the afternoon walking to and from fetching water that renders studying a struggle as they would be tired from the long trek.
“Before some donor agencies came to our village, our nearest water source was 10km away. Women would spend the better part of the day at the rivers and only return when they would have finished their laundry and sometimes even prepare evening meals while there.
“If government could at least build us one large dam because the distance is unbearable.”
The area is just so arid that the few vegetables that can be ground in the sandy soils.”
The isolated puddles of water remaining from the previous rainy season are the only source of water for humans and livestock.
To assist in the situation aid agencies working in the area such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and Adventist Development Relief Agency (Adra) drill boreholes and construct weir dams.
Adra engineer Nhlanhla Ncube said one of the dams they constructed with the assistance from WFP, Chikaura Dam, has been nothing more than a puddle.
She said the dam which has a capacity of 39 000 cubic metres of water provided the liquid to five nearby villages.
Musvosvi said the villages — Mahwe, Mazunga, Zinyani, Mapolisa and Darwen — survived on subsistence farming from their communal vegetable gardens.
“The dam is in its first season but as it is currently at 100 percent, the water can sustain the villages for only two years in the event of a severe drought. During last year’s rainy season, it was damaged a bit but it has managed to contain water for the community. Now villagers do not have to walk a long distance as there is a pipeline to the gardens,” she said.
During the 2016/2017 rainy season 170 dams of the country’s 10 000 dams were damaged due to the heavy rains that pounded the country while an additional 140 were threatening to breach.
WFP country director Eddie Rowe said Zvishavane’s water situation was bad as sourcing water for boreholes was difficult.
He said in Matenda area, water would be discovered kilometres away from its intended beneficiaries.
“It is with the aid of technology that we manage to bring water to schools and shopping centres.
“Using solar energy which is in abundance in Zvishavane means people do not have to pay anything in terms of maintenance. At one instance, we found water a few kilometres away from the school and had to pipe it to the nearby school so that children and teachers could access it.
“Ultimately when water is at a school, the community can better access it without any hindrances of ownership. The liquid is for everyone,” Rowe said.