Persistent Water Shortages in Giyani Strain Residents as Nandoni-Giyani Project Delays Continue

Elizabeth Masinge, a 69-year-old resident of Bode Village, just outside Giyani in Limpopo, faces a daily struggle navigating her wheelbarrow over the rugged gravel roads near her home. Her mission: to transport two 25-liter containers filled with water, a necessity for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

In the days that follow, Masinge will repeat this arduous journey, trekking over a kilometer from her home to fetch water once more. This routine is not unique to her; it’s the norm for Masinge and her neighbors in the villages of Bode and Dzingidzingi, areas plagued by a chronic shortage of running water. Their solitary source of potable water remains a borehole equipped with only two communal taps, serving thousands of residents.

To secure her daily water supply, Masinge often rises early, typically around 6 a.m., to stand in the long queues at the local borehole. On some days, this endeavor consumes half of her day, and there’s no guarantee of success. Frequently, the borehole runs dry before her turn arrives. The situation worsens during power cuts when the borehole ceases to pump water. In such cases, Masinge returns the next day, queuing once more for her essential water.

This borehole was drilled in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to alleviate water shortages in the region. Before this intervention, residents like Masinge had no choice but to purchase water from private suppliers, a costly solution.

“For many years, we have been promised that the government will install taps with running water in our homes. We are still waiting, and we do not know how much longer we will have to wait. We are really struggling without running water closer to our homes,” Masinge laments.

Public Health Implications

Access to water is a constitutional right in South Africa, and having safe, readily available water is crucial for public health. According to the World Health Organization, access to safe and adequate water supply is fundamental in preventing infections. Inadequate water access can lead to poor hygiene, leaving individuals vulnerable to infectious diseases like diarrhea.

Alana Potter, the global coordinator at End Water Poverty, an advocacy organization for water and sanitation, explains that when people must collect water far from their homes, they typically collect less water. This means they have limited water at home for drinking, cooking, and other essential purposes. Consequently, this compromises food and hand hygiene, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, roundworm, and hookworm infections.

A Lifelong Wish

Masinge, a lifelong resident of Bode village, now lives alone, as her three children are employed in Gauteng. At her age, she yearns for the simple comfort of running water in her home but is gradually losing hope that this dream will become a reality in her lifetime.

“Some days, my old bones are not strong enough to push a wheelbarrow loaded with water. I use water daily for most household tasks. But because collecting water is so challenging, I must prioritize its usage to ensure it lasts longer, just in case I’m unable to fetch more,” Masinge explains.

While she currently manages to collect water from the borehole station, she is anxious about her future as she ages. “We need running water in our homes. Water is everything.”

A Prolonged Wait for Running Water

In 2014, the National Department of Water and Sanitation launched the Nandoni-Giyani Bulk Water Project with the objective of alleviating water shortages in Giyani villages. The project aimed to provide clean running water to over 55 villages in Giyani, including Bode, Masinge’s home.

Yet, nearly a decade has passed, and none of these villages have received a single drop of water from the multi-million rand Nandoni Dam. In April of this year, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, pledged that Giyani residents would “soon” receive water from the project. However, the timeline for this promise remains unclear, as Mchunu noted last month that the Giyani Water Project had faced challenges along the way.

In a statement to the National Council of Provinces, Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha acknowledged that water shortages are a significant issue in the province. Mathabatha stated that progress had been made on the Nandoni-Giyani Bulk Water project, including the pumping of raw water from Nandoni Dam to Nsami Dam in Giyani.

Wisane Mavasa, the national water and sanitation spokesperson, confirmed that the construction of a 325 km pipeline to supply bulk water from Giyani Water Treatment Works to 55 villages is in progress. “Three hundred km of installations have already been covered, and the project is at 64% completion, scheduled for completion in March 2024,” Mavasa added.

Diminished Hope

Regrettably, Masinge no longer harbors faith in promises of a steady water supply in her village. “I am a pensioner, and I should be at home enjoying the benefits of our democracy. But how am I supposed to do that when I don’t have water? When will we ever have water at our homes, or even if it’s just a few communal taps within the village?” she wonders.

Nevertheless, Mavasa asserts that the Giyani Bulk Water project remains on course. “We anticipate that they will be completed within the set timelines, and therefore the people of Giyani and the surrounding villages will have an uninterrupted and sustainable supply of drinking water,” says Mavasa.

SourceHealth-e News

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