Water availability changing lives in Bengura village: Bikita ward 4

Water availability remains a challenge in rural communities. Over the years, people faced challenges in accessing water for household consumption, agricultural livelihoods and livestock drinking. Hope for water availability continued in the village for years affecting human development and success. The village consist of 74 households, a school, dip tank and a garden. These community assets all relied on water for years and its scarcity has affected progress.

In Bengura village, a 1-heactare Tapepuka garden has been in existence since 2008 and started operations in 2009 with 60 community members. Their vision was premised on improving household nutrition and providing support to their children through food and payment of fees. The garden flourished for years as they derived water from Chimbuya dam located 800 metres away. However, the dam proved ineffective in water provision after it failed to supply water perennially. This was due to seasonal drying of the dam which affected gardening. The village would then prioritize livestock drinking and forgo gardening. The garden gradually became defunct affecting the livelihoods and household nutrition of the community. Apart from the garden, Bengura primary school with an enrolment of 525 pupils (300 girls:225 boys). The school was deprived of constant water supply for close to a decade due water availability challenge. The school also drew its water the dam and in lean season periods they suffered greatly as water consumption will be limited as the community would prioritize livestock at the expense of the school. The school head shared challenges they faced without water while the school operated. Sanitation was the most experienced challenge at the school. To cope with the challenges, the school authority would instruct pupils to bring 2 litres of water each every day until the rainy season improves.

The school is surrounded by five villages namely, Ngwarai 1and 2, Matsvange, Chiwawate, Gambakwe and Bengura village. The school attracted pupils from these villages which were also affected with water challenges. Most villages in the ward have unprotected wells which are unhealthy and unsafe for drinking. This challenge would result in diarrheal diseases during the rainy season. These challenges went on for years without a solution affecting the ward.

In 2021, MeDRA funded by Christian Aid under the CA Appeal project managed to start the project in Bikita ward 4 and 5. One of the project’s outcomes was aimed at increasing access to safe and clean water and sanitation. MeDRA managed to collaborate with District Development Coordinator’s office with guidance from the District Development Fund office in Bikita to identify water challenges in ward 4. However, MeDRA contributed amongst other interventions through the provision of a Piped Water Scheme. The process of water installation lasted for 2 weeks which saw water connected in Bengura village through a Solarized Borehole. The facility managed to provide water to Tapepuka garden, Bengura Primary school, and the village. The Piped Water System managed to reach a total of 19 279 beneficiaries who are currently accessing water for various uses.

Farmers at Tapepuka garden managed to receive training from Agritex on Farming as A Business to allow them to have an entrepreneurial mindset on farming. This training enabled them to shift from subsistence farming to business. A visit conducted at Tapepuka garden and discussions with some members revealed that on average they earn USD 2 from vegetable sales. The earnings from the garden have enabled them to buy groceries and pay school fees for their children. MeDRA provided them garden seeds and fencing for the garden. The garden produces, crops such as Covo, butternut, Corn, Okra, Tomatoes and Onions. They have a local market at the shopping centre, and they also sell to locals who frequently approach the garden for fresh green supplies. The garden has a constant supply of water allowing garden members to be actively involved in gardening and income generation.

A field visit to the school saw, Bengura Primary School revealed that pupils have now access to clean water as they were seen drinking safe clean water from the 8 water taps at the school. Teachers used to struggle with water, and they appreciated the support by MeDRA as challenges of absenteeism of girls during their menstrual periods were prevalent before due to lack of water at the school. A garden has been established at the school by teachers allowing them to experience nutrition. Collaboration was noted as the Water Point Committee would liaise with the school, the garden, and the community to ensure that water management is maintained. The committee collaborates with DDF for technical backstopping on issues affecting the waterpoint.

About the project

Period: April 2021-March 2022

Project title: CA Appeal

Areas of operation: Buhera, Bikita and Chipinge

Donor: Christian Aid