The municipality says a R28 million water project will be completed in March next year
High school-aged children spend hours fetching and carrying water for their families in the rural Eastern Cape village of Tsita.
The principal of the local high school blames this for a high dropout rate and for plummeting matriculation numbers.
The municipality says a R28 million water project that will bring relief is expected to be completed in March 2022.
Tsita in Ntabankulu Local Municipality has been struggling with water for years, but things have worsened since 2018 as drought continues to grip the Eastern Cape.
“Many elderly people here died hoping they would have fresh water in their taps. But we still drink water with animals in the river,” says Gcinithemba Ntuthuka.
“Everybody here gets excited when summer comes because we get rains. Especially those who have jojo tanks … But I don’t have a jojo tank and I survive on piecemeal jobs.”
“I carry three 25-litres with my wheelbarrow. But sometimes I come back home without water, because the livestock make the water dirty and undrinkable.”
He said years ago the villagers bought their own water pipes and connected to Saphukanduku village.
“We have over 200 households here in Tsita Village and we decided to donate R100 per household to buy our own water pipes. The aim was to give our children enough time to study and also rescue our elderly parents from walking long distances to the river.”
“Then we dug a ten kilometre trench. The trench started from Saphukanduku village and passed to Ntshamanzi village. We used spades and picks to dig it. Some of our pipes crossed rivers. But we exprienced many leakages … Our pipes were being cut off and our connections were removed. It was too expensive to repair them and we decided to give up.”
He said going back to the river has affected his two nephews’ school results.
“The lack of water was the main cause for their poor results. After school they go twice to the river to fetch water to cook supper and wash their school shirts. This is also the water to bath in the morning before going to school.”
“I go to the river twice a day pushing a wheelbarrow with two 20-litre containers,” says Olwethu Bam, 22, who lives with three siblings and her grandmother.
There are three municipal jojo tanks, but she thinks they were last filled in 2016 when they were delivered.
The solution offered to the villagers’ water woes is the Alfred Nzo District Municipality’s R28 million water project that is meant to benefit 2,345 households.
But, says Bam, the project ground to a halt for a full month before work resumed on Wednesday.
Water pipelines will connect Tsita to Mnceba village three kilometres away. The project started in March 2021 but villagers say there are constant work stoppages.
“Last year, I failed my grade 12, because I did not get enough time to study,” says Melehloho Mamani, 21. “Most of my time is consumed by fetching water in the river….