The Source of Our Water
by Steven Jacobson, Takaliawa (Matebeleland South), Zimbabwe
I live in a very dry region, but luckily there is a large underground water source. In 1996, there was a large push by the district to bring safe drinking water to the area. So boreholes were installed within one to two kilometers from most homes—five in all. This was a large change. Before 1996, all water came from a dam site eight kilometers away or was pulled from deep holes in the riverbed that yielded an inconsistent source. None of it was all that safe to drink. The borehole water is very safe to drink but not very tasty. It has a lot of dissolved carbonates in it and all of my cooking pots and water containers have a hard, white film on their walls. When I am very thirsty, I don't notice the taste much, but I try to mix the water with fruit drink to mask the poor taste. But at least I can say it is now very safe, even if it does taste poor.
by Robert Joppa, Gumira, Chipinge District, Zimbabwe
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink! Finding water when you live along the banks of the Save, or "Sabi," River is not difficult. However, it is not always drinkable water. I have five choices when it comes to getting water. They are as follows:
1. Although I don't drink the water from Save River, I do use it for washing. My helper walks the 1/2 kilometer to fetch the bathing water and does the laundry while she's there. Mr. Mbodza uses the river for all his water: drinking, cooking, washing, and beer-brewing.
2. Kraal head Mapangana's borehole provides the cleanest and purest water around, but it is about 5 kilometers away. Even with a donkey cart, the trip takes at least an hour and a half, and often more because of waiting in line. This is where my drinking and cooking water comes from. This borehole is only 3 kilometers from Mr. Mbodza, but he does not use it because the Save River is closer to him. Since he doesn't own a donkey cart, that's a big plus.
3. The clinic borehole is only about 200 meters away, but it is extremely salty. This water isn't good for much other than bathing. But even then, you need to add laundry detergent so your soap won't "stick" to you. Nonetheless, we use this water whenever we need it right away.
4. The Dakate River borehole is about 6/10 of a kilomter away and is not as salty as the clinic borehole. We don't use this one at all because its location is inconvenient and the quality of the water is poor.
5. During the rainy season, my host family will line buckets, tubs, basins, and anything else that will hold water along the roof's drip line to catch as much rainwater as possible. We use this water for everything, although I'm a little apprehensive about drinking it untreated.
As is obvious from the above, this area has a problem with salty water. We have so much salt that some people harvest it from the water for their own domestic purposes. Villagers who aren't rich enough to own a donkey cart or aren't lucky enough to live near Mapangana's borehole are more than likely to fetch water from the Save.
by Christopher Thomas, Masonga/Samhutsa, Zimbabwe
Masonga, the area that I live in, is in the foothills of the mountains. This mountainous area is called the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and it acts much like the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains in the United States by forcing warm moist air from the ocean upwards so that it cools and releases its water as precipitation. As a result of this, the Eastern Highlands region receives more rain than most of the rest of Zimbabwe and stays green even in the height of the dry season.
There are many rivers and streams in the Eastern Highlands and in the Masonga area. The Tanganda and the Nyamtikwa rivers run through the area and meet at a place not far from my house and the local clinic. The area is named (Masonga in Shona) for the meeting place of these two rivers.
People in the community get the water they need for their gardens and general home use from the many springs, from the rivers, or from boreholes in the area. Water for drinking comes from springs or boreholes. The water I use I get from the Nyamtikwa River, which is only about 300 meters from my house. I get my drinking water from a small garden spring on the other side of the river.