“We see coronavirus cases piling up daily, and the need for adequate water can’t be stressed enough. This is working against that. I don’t think there was supposed to be a village experiencing water shortages. The Mopani District has assured us that they would step in and address water challenges through providing us with waters tankers, but up until now, it’s not happening.”
Setemere Letsoalo, a community leader in Topanama village, located outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, explains that the water shortages in the village severely affects local’s ability to protect themselves against Covid-19. Community members have resorted to drinking canal water, due to a lack of safe, drinkable water.
“The village has four boreholes, which are broken due to no maintenance done on them. The last borehole in the area stopped working in January and has not been fixed. But even that borehole was not enough for the entire village as it catered a certain area, and people had to travel for some distance to access adequate water,” Letsoalo says.
Community ‘not protected’ by government
The village has been without water for seven months, and according to Letsoalo, the community is at risk of a diarrhoea outbreak as a result of drinking polluted water.
“Now people are drinking dirty water from a canal and I’m worried that they are at risk of contracting other diseases besides coronavirus. People will get diarrhoea and die. Our community is not safe and is not protected by the government. Surely this is lack of planning from the government, and disregarding human life. This is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode if this crisis is not addressed,” Letsoalo explains.
He further says that the village was also snubbed by not receiving Jojo water tanks.
“What amazes me is that in our ward two Jojo water tanks were allocated for Covid-19 relief, and we hoped that at least one tank would be installed at our village. All the boreholes at Khujwana village are functional, and all four of our boreholes have shut down but that village got the water tanks,” Letsoalo notes.
Communicate with us, says municipality
Speaking to Health-e News, unemployed Sarah Nkoane says that the municipality’s water tanker method “is not working”.
“They should revise their plan of supplying water to us because the water tankers method is not working, as it only comes once a month, and that water lasts for a week if not three days. What do you do after that?”
Due to the ineffectiveness of the current water distribution and water access, she collects water from the local canal.
“I do drink that water. I boil it but not often – how much electricity or wood do you need to boil water every day for the entire family? That is too much,” she says.
Mopani District Municipality spokesperson, Odas Ngobeni, expressed that a technical team was sent to check the functionality of the boreholes in the area surrounding Topanama village.
“Guided by the report from that team, we will be able to develop an intervention plan. But we also know that Greater Tzaneen Municipality has developed a water tanker schedule for the area. Topanama, Khujwana A and Ntwanano receive water from tankers every Monday. Communities must always communicate with local structures to elevate reports of water supply challenges.“ – Health-e News