‘Dirty water is part of life’

‘Dirty water is part of life’

BEREA – IN an area where residents have shared water sources with animals for decades and dirt has become a part of life, clean water is finally becoming a reality.
Health experts often warn of risks of drinking from unprotected water sources, but in the village of Ha-Leneha in Khafung constituency dirt is part of life.
Villagers have become so accustomed to drinking dirty water from unprotected ponds that they named one of the pools from where they drink “Tšila-ha-li-bolae” meaning dirt doesn’t kill.
For decades, the villagers have depended on the pond for water for drinking and household chores.

Tšila-ha-li-bolae sustained the villagers together with their livestock for years. Waste floating in the pond was never a hindrance.
The village Chieftainess ’Mamojela Leneha says her people usually spend nights in the queue, waiting for their turn to fetch dirty water for their families.
Those who own donkeys fetch at least 40 litres of water, while others balance at least 20-litre containers on their heads.
‘‘We depend on rain water and now that it hardly rains, it’s a major challenge,’’ Chieftainess Leneha said.

The principal of Leneha Primary School, ’Mapaulina Lekopa, said because of water shortages, teachers have been asking students to bring their own water from home since 1992.
‘‘Whenever we hold any ceremony, children are expected to bring 5 litres of water,’’ he said.
“I am glad that the burden will soon be over,’’ said Lekopa.

All this could however soon become a thing of the past, according to Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele.
Maqoqolo Contractor, a firm based in Mokhotlong, will soon begin installing water pipes in various areas of Khafung, Thota-peli, Ha-Leneha, Maneheng and Ha-Seoka, said the minister.
Ntsekele told villagers at a public gathering in the area last Thursday that the government is committed to ensuring that clean water is made available during this financial year.
‘‘We found it worthy to include this constituency in the 2018/19 budget and offer services,’’ said Ntsekele, adding that he was aware of the water challenges endured by the community for years.
He said many of the country’s rural areas were affected by lack of sources of clean water.

‘‘As a Minister, I do at times get stranded,’’ he said, revealing that he receives calls from “numerous people” across the country requesting his ministry to act on their water problems.
He urged the contractor and the Khafung community to work together on the project.
‘‘Do work hand in hand for the betterment of this community. Protect the equipment of the contractor and ensure its safety,’’ he said.
According to Ntsekele, 3 898 people are set to benefit from the M5.2 million project.

However, due to lack of funds the project will exclude Khalahali and Tilimaneng, two villages enduring an equally dire water situation.
‘‘We will include them in the future,’’ said the minister.
Chieftainess Leneha commended the minister for the project.

‘‘We have been seeking… a miracle and our patience has finally paid off. We are hopeful that by March as promised, they will be done,’’ she said.
A local representative, Motsamai Mohapi, said the community was “excited” that at last clean water is being made available.
Chairperson of Phuthiatsana Council, Lesoiti Mokhabi, said the minister should ensure that clean water is accessible to all Basotho.
People in desperate need of clean drinking water include those in Cholopane, Ha-Phoofolo, Ha-Tšiame and Ha-Phiri.

Minister of Local Government, Habofanoe Lehana, said the community asked him to lead their efforts for clean water back in 2015.
In that year there was a “catastrophe of water shortage” in the constituency, said Lehana, adding he has been pestering the Water Ministry to act on the situation since 2015.
‘‘We worked together with our council to remind them of our application and our persistence bore fruit,’’ he said.

While it was all joy for many, others who were left out of the project were bitter.
Maboka Mothupi, the councillor representing Tilimaneng and Khalahali areas, expressed surprise that Tilimaneng will no longer benefit from the project.
‘‘I am very sad because I had no idea about the changes and nobody explained as to why there was this sudden change,’’ said Mothupi.
‘‘Where are we expected to fetch water from?’’ he asked.

’Mapule Motsopa

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