The challenge of water scarcity is one that has already greatly affected our two weeks in the Honde valley – through our own personal struggles and the wider challenges experienced by the community.
Our first week saw us having no more than a few hours of running water at a time, every second day. As a result, we had to walk 150 metres to collect our water in buckets before storing it in a container donated by a kind local person. Immediately our laissez-faire attitude to water abundance and accessibility became clear. We became keenly aware how water is vital for even the most basic of tasks: washing up; food preparation; showering; clothes washing; irrigation… The list goes on.
We only experienced the full brunt of these challenges for a week, but it has become clear how it can take its toll, particularly on productivity. Our days soon featured the obstacle of overcoming our lack of water supply before we could achieve anything else.
Its impact on productivity and the challenges its absence brings to the agricultural community became clearer as we interviewed Weston Chidzumba, from Chipungu, at the agricultural fair. His personal difficulties with water supply have led to an ambitious community wide solution involving committee members targeting 200 metres of piping each through fundraising.
Creative solutions to the problem of water have become a necessity for the relative prosperity and self-sufficiency of all local farmers. Later in the week we witnessed this first-hand at the farm and homestead of Mr Mutsamba, a support group leader and a pillar of the wider community.
Harnessing the supply of water from a river source around a kilometre away led to the success of Mr Mutsamba’s farm, which features a banana plantation, green maize, piggery, poultry, sugar cane, and many other varieties of fruit and vegetables. Part of its success, we found, arose from his father who dug a canal as an irrigation resource in 1952 and, later, built a piping system to the surrounding fields.
Mr Mutsamba’s creation of two dams ensures the sustainability of the farm – even if experiencing a drought, his farm can withstand this due to his ingenuity and hard work. The success of this has led to his saving and eventual buying of solar panels, so his home has electricity for the first time, as of three months ago.
Mr Mutsamba’s story, and the challenges we have so far faced in the Honde valley has made us appreciate, maybe for the first time, the necessity of water and how its availability and accessibility determines nearly all other aspects of life.
By ICS Progressio volunteers in The Honde Valley, Zimbabwe.
Photo: Mr Mutsamba