Piped water unlikely solution to human-wildlife conflicts Environment, Climate and Wildlife Deputy Minister John Paradza (second from right) and AWF country director, Ms Olivia Mufute (second left) during a tour of the piped water project recently.

Conrad MupesaMashonaland West Bureau 

IT’S 4am and Gogo Anna Munjanja of Hotel Village in Nyamakate, wakes up to bath her grandchildren and prepare a meal for them before they go to school, so she walks freely and safely to a community water tap that was installed recently. 

A few weeks ago, fetching water around that time could have seen her lose her life to wild animals such as lions and hyenas, and perhaps risk being trampled by elephants.

Gogo Munjanja is one of the 100 villagers celebrating the new clean water source whose installation was organised by conservancy organisation African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) through funding from the DN Batten Foundation.

The borehole is solar-powered, situated about 4km from the village and has the capacity to produce 6 000 litres of water per hour.

Environment, Climate and Wildlife Deputy Minister John Paradza visited the site last week to have an appreciation of the work. 

Deputy Minister Paradza praised the community’s contribution after it built tap stands, dug trenches, provided labour for pipe laying, brick moulding and pit sand collection in line with the technical team’s expectations.

The project was in line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and place behind in development projects. 

“We are not going to leave you behind. As a Government, we are working to ensure that you are protected from the animals. 

“I have heard that youths in this area were engaging in poaching to address problems of unemployment and this organisation has come at an opportune time to help address poaching challenges by setting up a horticulture garden that is going to provide employment and income for our youths and women. 

“It is my fervent hope that as a community, you are going to safeguard this infrastructure for the coming generations,” he said.

Parliamentarians are presently debating the Wildlife Compensation Bill, whose main purpose is to find lasting solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.

The AWF says it believed in the participation of communities as that brought a sense of ownership, with the immediate goal to economically empower villagers through nutrition gardens as their crops were damaged by the animals every year.

The organisation installed five 10 000-litre water tanks and established seven water points to ease water challenges.

Works to fence the Hotel Village Nutrition Garden were at an advanced stage, with villagers clearing the area and making land preparations.

AWF believes empowering the communities with such projects will help address major factors contributing to human-wildlife conflicts.

“We are grateful for the water pipeline project that has seen us get water at our doorsteps,” said Gogo Munjanja. As you can see, age has taken all from me and fetching water from a distance was becoming problematic for my health. 

“Apart from that, it was also risky to fetch water in the evening and early hours of the day as you can see we border the game area and wild animals stray into our village.” 

Gogo Munjanja explained how she narrowly escaped the jaws of predators while she was on her way from a bush pump borehole. 

Chief Chundu, born Abel Mbasera, said he had received reports from villagers saying the old bush pump used to have frequent breakdowns, forcing people to share open and unsafe water sources with animals.

Hotel Village is under Hurungwe North constituency where legislator, Cde Pax Muringazuva, believed partnerships between organisations and communities would help eliminate human-wildlife conflicts. 

He was optimistic that the project would uplift the lives of people in his area, and implored other organisations operating in Hurungwe North to emulate AWF’s works. 

Hurungwe Rural District Council chairman Cde Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the initiative had addressed issues that were affecting women in the district. 

Hurungwe was endowed with vast tracts of game area and Cde Mliswa-Chikoka said the participation of the organisations such as AWF would uplift the lives of communities. 

The district had some stretches that are rocky and receive poor rainfall, with villagers’ hopes of expanding tobacco now dwindling due to deforestation. 

AWF country director Ms Olivia Mufute said the Nyamakate project was a prototype of other projects to be rolled out in Mbire. 

She said previously, the AWF has done a project in Mbire District under a European Union-funded partnership for improved anti-poaching and compatible land use in community lands of the lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transboundary Conservation                                                   Area.

“Under the project, AWF trained Mbire District chilli farmers on the proper processes to follow along the chilli farming value chain, from land preparation up to selling the chilli to the market. 

“The market linkages availed helped farmers to get income from their chilli produce. To the farmers, chilli has a dual purpose as it provides income and helps in human-wildlife conflict mitigation,” said Ms Mufute. 

In Mbire, AWF is facilitating the establishment of four solar-powered piped water schemes, targeting Masoka, Kamufungu, Hambe and Madzomba sites under the ongoing funding from the Swedish International Development Agency and Danish International Development Agency for the Utariri- integrated and adaptive biodiversity, climate and livelihoods project in the Zambezi Valley.’ 

Upon completion, the four piped water schemes will provide water to about 1 250 households, schools and clinics within communities adjacent to wildlife corridors. The AWF will assist communities to set up critical governance structures comprising of committees in charge of monitoring the use of the new water infrastructure

The development of water infrastructure in the community is set to transform the lives of women, youth and other villagers through the upcoming nutrition garden project and the youth aquaculture project as the garden will focus attention on horticulture crops such as carrots, tomatoes and vegetables. 

Ms Mufute said the Hotel Village community would be sensitised on good practices on horticulture and how they could navigate the horticulture value chain through access to markets. 

“Hotel Village is located on the periphery of Hurungwe Safari Area and Phundundu Wildlife area; we believe villagers can take advantage of the safari tourism facilities, hunting camps, lodges, fishing camps within their proximity to sell their fresh produce,” added Ms Mufute. 

The European Union and the Swedish Postcode Foundation have also funded, through AWF, the projects running in the two districts.

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