When taps run dry

When taps run dry

TEYA-TEYANENG – IN some villages in Lesotho getting water is a mission. There are those who walk long distances to get to unprotected wells where they have to endure hours in queues for a chance to fill their containers. There are those who spend hours in queues to get water from protected wells built by the government or donors. Then there are those who have taps in their yards but they still have to wait for days to get water.

Most villagers in the small town of Teya-teyaneng fall in the category of those who have taps on their doorsteps or in their homes but rarely get a constant supply of water.
Life without water has been gruelling but they have learned to live with the problem because their pleas for help have either been meet with more promises or simply ignored.

And this shortage of water has nothing to do with the drought. For them it matters not that Lesotho has had good rains because their taps remain dry. Teya-teyaneng gets its water from Phuthiatsana and Teja-tejana Rivers.  One of the residents who has had to live with the water shortages for decades is ’Marethabile Ramokhitli of Ha-Ramonaheng, one of the oldest parts of the town, says it has been decades since her tap had water for two consecutive days.

“For all the time I have owned a tap in my yard I have had to wake up at midnight around 2am because that is the time when there will be water coming out,” Ramokhitli says.
Ramokhitli says she used to take her laundry to be washed in Maseru at one of her children’s house because sometimes she would go for a month without water.
So for years the villagers have been pilling pressure on their councillors, MPs and chief to intervene.  Then last week Ramokhitli opened her taps one afternoon and was surprised the water was coming out.

That is because since Monday this week the town has been receiving water from Metolong Dam in Thaba-Bosiu, some 50 kilometres from Teya-teyaneng.
The Teya-teyaneng villages of Ha-Ramonaheng, Ha-Ntjabane, Ha-Mphele and others nearby now have a reliable source of water.  Under the Drought Relief Project, the government has also built two reservoirs that collect water from Metolong Dam.

Managed by the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO), the Drought Relief Project is aimed at improving water supply to Mafeteng, Ha-Foso and Teya-teyaneng.
Minister of Water Affairs, Kimetso Mathaba, was in the town last week to officially open the reservoirs.

“We know that water is life and it is our duty to provide life to the people we serve. We will try to ask for more money to reach out to remote areas through the rural water supply,” Mathaba said.
“We are also looking towards connecting villages through pipelines that run through so that they can better secure the development rather than have them see development go past them to benefit other people.”

“This creates bitterness in people and will end up destroying such development.” ’Mamathe Makhaola, the director of operations and maintenance in Teya-teyaneng, said at least 75 percent of villages in the town can now access water. The challenge, Makhaola said, is to extend water pipe connection to other remote areas that were not covered by the project.

“We have a policy that every Mosotho should have water. However, we are still challenged with having sewage systems constructed efficiently within the TY town and all of these needs money so that we can accomplish what we have planned in our policy,” Makhaola said.

Khomoatsana Tau, the Water Affairs Principal Secretary, said rural to urban migration makes it difficult to estimate how many households will be connected to the water system in the next few years.
Minister Mathaba urged the villagers to protect the infrastructure.   It was revealed that at least three manhole covers were stolen before the reservoirs were commissioned.
The project did not come without challenges to the villagers.

Ramokhitli said during the testing phase the second reservoir would spill over and destroyed her yard as well as the road to her home.
“The road is totally destroyed, people I live with cannot drive into their yard anymore,” she said.
“I have submitted my complaint to the company and they have taken pictures and promised to get back to me.  I hope they will.”

Rose Moremoholo

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