Nesia Mhaka Herald Correspondent
A crippling shortage of potable water has hit Bikita area with more than 10 000 villagers are now relying on one borehole after most boreholes in the area have either dried up or broken down due to over-use and a receding water table.
The state of affairs has also seen some villagers walking for more than 10 kilometres to access water from other sources. Desperate villagers are now fetching water from unprotected sources, raising the spectre of disease outbreak.
The Herald visited the area on Monday last week and witnessed the dire situation.
A villager, Mrs Evenly Chirinda, said the prevailing high temperatures had dealt a devastating blow to them as most water bodies in the area were drying up.
She said the community was now relying on a single borehole at a local school.
“We have a serious water shortage here with the entire community relying on one borehole which is failing to cope with demand. Some of the villagers are now getting water from unprotected sources, which is very unhealthy,” she said.
As humans and livestock compete for water, Mrs Charinda said some of their livestock had started succumbing to the shortages.
“Our dams are drying up and this was last experienced in 1992. We are losing our wealth on a daily basis as our cattle are getting stuck in the mud while trying to access water.
“Water is not a want, but a need and we fear an outbreak of water-borne diseases, including cholera and typhoid, if the problem is not urgently addressed,” she said.
She appealed the Government and its partners to assist the communities in rehabilitating malfunctioning boreholes to improve access to water in the area.
“We are appealing to the Government to come to our rescue by drilling more boreholes and constructing more dams. Our area is under natural region five and is drought prone.
“There is need to increase the number of dams as the population in this area has also increased. There is also need to drill and flush more boreholes as a matter of urgency,” she said.
Apart from water crisis, villagers in Bikita are now appealing the Government for more food aid. Those who planted small grains like sorghum managed to get good yields, but unfortunately they planted on small pieces of land.
Bikita is characterised by low and unpredictable rainfall patterns which resulted in farmers facing water shortages and failing to realise sufficient yields for household consumption.