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ActionAid repairs boreholes as El Niño takes toll in Zimbabwe

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 12:42

As water sources dry up due to the El Niño-induced drought in Zimbabwe, ActionAid has moved in to repair 28 boreholes that will benefit close to 30,000 people in Manicaland and Mashonaland East Provinces of Zimbabwe. 

The only reliable and safe water source for Lucia Manjoro (53) from Nzvenga Village, Ward 13 in Nyanga District east of Zimbabwe, has dried up completely. The borehole where Lucia obtained water dried up recently, due to a poor rainfall season in 2015-2016.

I am now drinking water from the river and I am worried my family may contract water-borne diseases. There was an outbreak of typhoid in my area in 2015 because people were drinking water from the river, said Lucia, a mother of six children.

Lucia’s other concern is how she will support her family following the drying up of the borehole. “I used the water from the borehole for irrigating my potato and paprika crops which I grow for sale,” she said. 

The dried borehole is 500 meters away from Lucia’s homestead where she has planted her paprika and potato crops.  Water experts in the area say the borehole needs to be deepened. This requires equipment that Lucia’s community simply cannot afford to procure.

Lucia has resorted to syphoning water to irrigate her crops from a nearby “forbidden” canal which is about 1.7km away from her homestead. The water from the canal has become a source of conflict for Lucia’s community, herself included. It is drawn from a nearby Murozi Dam in the area and was mainly constructed for the purposes of irrigating crops for small-scale farmers who have horticultural projects downstream.  The small-scale farmers pay user fees to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) while communal farmers like Lucia do not pay any user fees.

The viability of my potato and paprika projects is now threatened because we are not allowed to use the canal water.  This is a water source in my community and I do not understand why I should not be allowed to use it, said Lucia.

Over the years drawing water from the canal was not an issue in the community because there were many water sources available. Recent droughts in the area and elsewhere in Nyanga have put pressure on the few, limited water sources that are available. 

From the 212 boreholes in Nyamaropa where Lucia is from, 66 have dried up due to drought, while only 105 are functional.  The other 41 boreholes have broken down due to various reasons.

ActionAid repaired a total of 11 boreholes and drilled three new boreholes in Nyamaropa in 2015 to respond to a typhoid outbreak that saw over 500 people being hospitalized and four deaths.  

To respond to the effects of El Niño on the water situation in Zimbabwe, ActionAid is currently rehabilitating 28 water points in Nyamaropa, Makoni and Chiendambuya in Manicaland Province and in Hwedza in Mashonaland East Province, benefitting 28,350 people.  ActionAid is rehabilitating broken down and dried up boreholes in most of the areas and is installing water to a rural clinic which had no water in Chiendambuya.

The devastating effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon in Zimbabwe have seen many water sources drying up in the country while over four million people are in need of food aid. With more and more water sources drying up, many communities are facing dire water shortages as the next rains are only expected in October or November 2016. That’s if the seasons do not change due to climate change, as has happened in the past.