‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’

‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’

Rose Moremoholo

MAFETENG – At 84, ’Mamotinyane Ranooe cannot remember when she got married or when she arrived in Ha-Ralitabo, a village that lies about four kilometres from the Main South 1 Road in Mafeteng.

All she remembers is that the nearby spring had enough water to quench their thirst and allow all villagers to do their laundry.

But today things have changed and the spring produces less water forcing both man and beast to drink from the same source.

Before last year’s devastating drought, the villagers would often take their livestock and do their laundry at the Matubatsane River, not far from the village. The spring would be reserved for villagers to draw their drinking water.

But as the drought consolidated its grip on the village, every living thing was left to depend on the spring, which came under fierce pressure from the demand.

Ranooe says they had to deal with an outbreak of diarrhoea in the village as hygienic standards plummeted.

They were no longer having full baths let alone washing their clothes.

“At the time many knew nothing about boiling water to kill germs, we drank the water as it was,” Ranooe says.

“Even today I can assure you not everyone boils water before they drink it in this village.”

Ronooe says many had to spend sleepless nights at the spring as villagers waited in the queue for everyone to draw water and even then the water was still not enough.

“I was lucky, because of old age I would have to leave my bucket and ask a younger person to fill it up and I would collect the bucket in the morning,” Ranooe says.

She says most villagers felt abandoned by the authorities as they had to fend for themselves.

The village chief, ’Masenate Maholi, says she still cannot understand how her people survived each day with the severe shortage of water.

“Hygiene is very important in life and when we are talking about hygiene we talk about water and toilets,” Maholi says.

Last Thursday, the villagers from Ha-Ralitabo had a sweet surprise when the Ministry of Water Affairs through its Rural Water Supply installed nine taps and 70 toilets.

The chairman of ’Mamantšo Local Government Council under which Ha-Ralitabo falls, Mokoena Mokoena, says the villagers are grateful that the ministry had answered their water need.

Mokoena says the council did not take part in asking the Mafeteng Rural Water Supply to provide the water to the village but the residents themselves took it upon themselves to do that.

“The villagers did that all by themselves, I found them already working out on how they would finally get this water,” Mokoena says.

Mokoena says he was born in Ha-Ralitabo and for 56 years he has been drinking water from the spring.

“We however would love to ask that this spring be protected from livestock and have it fenced in so that cows and every livestock we have don’t destroy it,” he says.

The Kolo MP, Teboho Lehloenya, says the gift of water is the best gift a village could ever be given because water is life.

He says the fact that the project was launched during August was an added blessing as they are celebrating the African woman.

“An African woman relates well with water, she uses water on a daily basis and to have the water launched for us on this day of this month calls on us to remember how blessed we are for having women in our lives,” Lehloenya says.

“Our people would spend nights at the spring waiting for water to fill up at least a 20 litre bucket. This is why water was more important for us,” he says.

Lehloenya says they had hoped that Metolong Dam would provide them with water, according to the initial plan but that has not happened.

“We were told that the water from Metolong would reach our villages through mini dams that would directly collect water from this big reservoir,” he says.

Lehloenya says the provision of water in Ha-Ralitabo will relieve girls from the pressure of collecting water for domestic chores and help them focus on their school work.

“Imagine these girls walking every day and coming home to wait at the well for hours before returning home in the dark to prepare family meals,” he says.

“When do they have time to study?”

Ralechate ’Mokose, Minister of Water Affairs, says their mission as the ministry is to distribute water to communities in the rural areas “but this cannot just be any water, it has to be clean water”.

“If you can recall the old days when wells and springs would be the only sources of water and uphill there would be outdoor toilets, the water we would drink would be contaminated especially on rainy days,” ’Mokose says.

He says that toilets and water are best friends and “this is why we advise that now that there is clean water and toilets, villagers need to learn how to collect water and keep it closer to the pit latrine toilets to wash their hands immediately after coming out of a toilet”.

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