Water-starved villagers of Bhutugwani and Kasamara in Gokwe South received major boosts after their water woes were recently addressed, through the District Development Fund’s (DDF) intervention to rehabilitate the boreholes that had gone for more than six years without working, while driving villagers to travel long distances to acquire water.
Bhutugwani and Kasamara Villagers in wards 20 and 32 last month petitioned Gokwe South Rural District Council over water challenges that had continuously affected villagers for a long period, forcing women and girls to bear the brunt as they traveled long distances to fetch water.
The water crisis affected the villagers for many years, but thanks to the engagement meetings with their duty bearers, spear-headed by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) they managed to engage the local authorities and now they rejoice with two boreholes working properly. The water challenges had seen women and girls falling victims to abuse at the hands of men along the way as they traveled to fetch water.
In view of all these challenges faced by the villagers, the District Development Fund (DDF) managed to send a representative to fix two boreholes in Bhutugwani and Kasamara villages. During a tour organized by ZHOCD to the two villages, Headman Bhutugwani told this reporter that the work done by the government through the DDF department of bringing water close to the villagers is something that brought relief to people in his village.
“Before this borehole was constructed we used to have water challenges. We had to travel around 10-20km to fetch water from Gwiringwindi, Sengwa, and even at Mbumbusi Dams. So it happened that some time ago we had luck and a borehole was constructed here on 16 October 2014. However, after construction, the borehole started developing faults in just 3-4months after construction. The pipes that bring forth the water upward were not strong so we stayed for a long period struggling to get water. Thanks to the insightful workshops by ZHOCD (Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations) we were taught how to engage with the relevant authority for assistance, that is when we petitioned the (District Development Fund) and they responded well. They sent a representative to fix this borehole, we are happy that our borehole is now functioning properly without a hustle. This has made it easier for women who had the challenge of walking long distances. They can now fetch water close to their homes and some have even kick-started garden initiatives to help sustain their families,” said Headman Bhutugwani.
“We used to travel long distances to Gwiringwindi before this borehole was constructed. It was a challenge for us because our children were forced to spend the whole day fetching water. There is a big challenge where we used to get water because there are a lot of wells that have been dug over there, which is also a risk, especially to our children. The distance on its own was unbearable. However, the coming in of ZHOCD through their gospel for development enlightened us on how we could solve our challenges. That is when we engaged DDF and they responded well and now we are happy to have this borehole close to our homes. As women, we have started garden projects which were made possible through this borehole. We are grateful to ZHOCD for the generous gesture for teaching us how we can engage the relevant authorities for us to solve the community’s challenge,” added Christine Paradza the Borehole Chairperson in Bhutugwani area.
Elder Chigwamba of Kasamara village reminisced the challenges that she and the other women faced while they tried to navigate through life without water near their places. She also showed gratitude to the relevant stakeholders for making it possible for them to get clean water. She, however, mentioned the need to add more boreholes to her ward.
“We are grateful to Bishop Munengiwa through the ZHOCD project they inspired us to stand up and make our voices heard, this resulted in us petitioning the rural council to assist us with boreholes. Bishop Munengiwa pushed our petition and DDF responded, and now we are happy that the borehole has been fixed here in Kasamara village. Before this borehole, we used to travel around 9km to fetch water in a dam that our livestock also drink from. It was an unbearable situation for us, but now we are happy that we have a nearby borehole. However, we wish to have one more borehole just to relieve pressure from this one since we have more villagers using it,” she said.
“We have had water challenges for a long period of time, and the ZHOCD project came at the right time because we had struggled a lot. Through this project, we were able to petition the relevant stakeholders in this endeavor and we are grateful to DDF for responding to our needs. Now, it has become easier for people in this area to fetch water close to their homes other than walking 9km to fetch water. However, we still plead for one more borehole in this area since we have some people from other villages coming here to fetch water, this strains the borehole here because about two hundred and fifty people are now coming here,” Shadreck Kasamara the village head also added.
Speaking in an interview with this reporter Remegio Mazo who is the Ward 32 Councilor expressed gratitude for the work done to rehabilitate the boreholes. He said that it had become difficult for women and girls in his ward to acquire water close by because they were forced to walk long distances while being exposed to the dangers that befall them along the way.
“We are here witnessing a great initiative that has been brought upon the Bhutugwani area. The majority of the women here had challenges walking several miles to fetch water but with this kind gesture from the DDF people now have easy access to water and this is important. Our children are now able to come here and fetch water without being afraid of the dangers that used to befall them when they were walking several miles. I am also happy that the villagers here are doing their best to maintain this borehole well. We are also grateful to ZHOCD for being the brains behind the unity of purpose that has seen villagers uniting for a common cause. Through insightful trainings from ZHOCD as leaders we gained leadership skills that have propelled us as well as our headmen to preach the gospel of development, and one such development we are witnessing today,” he said.
Bishop Edmond Munengiwa who represents ZHOCD in Gokwe South said that though there has been great progress in addressing water challenges there is, however, a need to add one more borehole in Kasamara village so that women can start engaging in income-generating projects to sustain themselves.
“I am grateful to the DDF water department for the great work that they have done in Ward 20 and ward 32. The ZHOCD’s project covers these two areas and we are grateful that great work is being witnessed here through the workshops conducted here. We want to see progress for all the women in these areas so that they do not struggle with water challenges. The boreholes that have been fixed here are working properly without any challenges, and we appreciate DDF for their great work. However, going forward, if resources permit there is a need for one more borehole here in Kasamara because there are so many people coming to fetch water here,”
Zacheo Chinhema a representative from the Water Supply Operative at the DDF water division said that it is imperative that villagers should not just use water to drink only, but also take advantage and engage in income-generating projects that will help them sustain their families whilst developing their areas.
“We managed to help the Bhutugwani area after a representative from ZHOCD Bishop Munengiwa came to us seeking assistance. It is our mandate as DDF to make sure that everyone in the rural areas has access to clean water hence we reacted as soon as we were told about the challenge and we came here to assist in this endeavor. We managed to fix the borehole and it is now easy for every villager to use including children because with just two strokes the water will be coming out. We are happy that the villagers are no longer traveling longer distances in these two areas. We are also happy that this borehole was constructed properly with a soak away which is the cleanliness that we also preach at DDF. However, these days we are being guided by the theme, of water for productive use. What we mean is that villagers should also use the water for development purposes, engaging in incoming generating activities such as doing garden projects and even livestock projects using this water to get income and sustain their lives in their areas. As DDF we are there to assist these villagers and we will continue to do so when we are called upon,” he said.
Philemon Handinahama Hwami who is the Project Officer for the EU-ZHOCD Troicare Project in Gokwe South said that water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, and for human survival itself (SDG 6). It is imperative for the reduction of the global burden of disease and to improve the health, welfare, and productivity of populations hence Hwami said bringing water to the rural areas of Bhutugwani and Kasamara is a fundamental human right.
“In the first quarter of 2022 the community of Gokwe South came together and wrote a petition to DDF requesting for the rehabilitation of boreholes here and I am glad to say that the petition has been well responded to, out of the four boreholes that have been requested for rehabilitation so far we have two successfully done. I am glad to say that because of the engagement between the community and the DDF duty bearers we now have a situation whereby the boreholes are now being rehabilitated and increasing portable water to the community. I have seen women and children in these two wards smiling because water is now readily available where boreholes have been rehabilitated. The situation on the ground is that we still need more boreholes to be rehabilitated, but at this moment I am grateful for this project Troicare and EU in particular or having created this platform of engaging the community and the duty bearers.
“The creation of that platform has increased the convergence between the community and the government for positive development in the Gokwe South District. We are hopeful that as has been promised by the DDF representative with us on this tour that the other remaining boreholes will be repaired. We will do a follow up on that and hopefully, we will have more boreholes rehabilitated and more boreholes being constructed in this district as a way of increasing access to potable water. One of the key tenants of the Sustainable Development Goals is to increase access to potable water in rural communities. We are hopeful that if we continue to keep working with the relevant stakeholders, the government, and the community we will be able to create the necessary engagement for development. Because the whole idea of this project is to make sure that people’s rights and dignity will be restored and we are moving towards that direction,” said Hwami.
The two boreholes have brought relief to the Bhutugwani and Kasamara villagers and women who used to walk long distances have been saved from the dangers that used to befall them along the way.