Water woes in Qiloane

Water woes in Qiloane

MAFETENG – ’Marefuoe Shale, 30, from Qiloane Ha-Ramatheko in Likhoele constituency, wakes up at the crack of dawn to draw some water for her family.
All she needs in a day is 30 litres of water.

“Sometimes I go to the source carrying my baby on my back despite the chilly winter mornings,” Shale says.
Yet even when she goes to the communal well that early, she sometimes fails to get any water.
“I use water for washing, cooking and ablutions on a daily basis,” she says.

Shale says even during the morning hours, she finds some people already queuing to draw water.
Sometimes she goes back home empty-handed.

She says her children are still young and are unable to take care of the little one when she goes to fetch water.
“Our lives are in danger while walking at night because we are likely to be attacked on our way to or from the water sources,” Shale says.
“Those who are unable to wake up at night resort to using dirty water drawn from unprotected wells.”

Shale says some people in her village go to unprotected water sources where they share water with animals.
She also says the wind blows all sorts of dirt and debris into the unprotected water sources.
“Chances are high that we are likely to get water-borne diseases from these unprotected water-sources,” she says.
Shale’s story vividly captures a common phenomenon in rural and semi-urban settlements in Lesotho.

This is inspite of Lesotho being one of the few countries in Africa with an overabundance of natural water sources.
Yet despite the abundance there are still thousands of Basotho who still rely on unprotected sources to access water.
The Lesotho Health and Demographic Survey (LHDS) of 2014 indicates that almost all urban households (ninety percent) have access to improved clean water.
The same survey shows that seventy percent of rural households have access to an improved source of drinking water.

The LHDS shows that improved sources protect against outside contamination so that water is safe to drink.
The LHDS further shows that urban and rural households rely on different sources of drinking water.
It says seventy percent of urban households have piped water in their homes or yard while in contrast, rural households mainly rely on public taps (fifty six percent), followed by unimproved sources (twenty three percent).

The report says only five percent of rural households have piped water in their premises, with thirty seven percent of households travelling thirty minutes or longer round the trip to fetch drinking water.
It says one in ten households boils their drinking water, making it the most commonly used water treatment method.
Despite the fact that a higher proportion of households in rural areas obtain water from unimproved sources compared to urban areas, water treatment is more common in urban areas.
According to the LHDS, twenty one percent of households in the urban areas boil their drinking water compared with seven percent in the rural areas.
A retired principal health inspector in the Ministry of Health, Themba Fobo, says Lesotho’s infant mortality rate is high in rural areas because of contaminated water.
Tšeliso Mothibe, a member of the Tšana-Talana community council in Mafeteng, says the shortage of water is a big problem in his area.
He says their role as the council is to repair and upgrade the already existing water sources.

“We do not have a budget to construct any new water sources,” Mothibe says.
“The central government is the one responsible for ensuring that there are newly established water sources,” he says.
Mothibe says there are some areas in his Electoral Division and the Community Council at large where they managed to repair the damaged water taps.
Mafeteng and the neighbouring district of Mohale’s Hoek are some of the driest in Lesotho.
Desertification, as shown by big gullies, has also wreaked havoc in the district.

Newly appointed Water Affairs Minister, Samonyane Ntsekele, says he is fully aware of the challenges confronting his ministry.
He says his biggest challenge is to provide clean drinking water to rural and peri-urban communities.
Ntsekele told thepost last week that he has begun a comprehensive assessment of the water needs of rural communities so as to come up with an effective work plan.

Majara Molupe

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