The long walk to water in KwaZulu-Natal villages

“We as rural women don’t exist for the government”

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Women from KwaManxili, in Nquthu, wash their clothes near the borehole. Photo: Teboho Moloi

Access to clean water has always been a struggle in the villages of KwaManxili in Nquthu. Now, with the spread of Covid-19 and the instruction to wash their hands often, villagers need water more than ever.

Residents of Ndwalane, Klwayisi, Magogo, eMagcekeni, KwaLanga, Silutshane, Hlazakazi, and Mbokodweni in KwaManxili have to walk long distances to fetch water from a pump at a borehole. Most of the women and children walk about two kilometres to the nearest source of water.

Many of the women do their laundry at the borehole.

“Life is hard in our village, but we vote in every national and local government elections,” says David Manwadu from eMagcekeni . “We share this borehole with many other residents. We have to walk a long distance to reach this borehole and wait for hours to fill up these water containers. It is hard for women and girls to carry because they are heavy.”

“And sometimes this borehole runs dry, especially in the winter season, and we resort to using water from local streams.”

David Manwadu fills his bucket as the queue of buckets stretches out behind him. Photo: Teboho Moloi

“Long before the outbreak of this Covid-19, it has always been a constant struggle for us to get water,” said a villager who did not want to be named. “And it is still a daily struggle to get water to drink, do laundry, and wash hands as is required to fight this pandemic.

“It seems like we as the rural women from this part of the province don’t exist for the South African government.”

Ward councillor Sikhumbuzo Langa (IFP) said there were 18 villages in the ward and water supplied weekly by three water trucks from the uMzinyathi District Municipality was inadequate. “It is not sufficient for the residents of this ward who use their water buckets and barrels to receive water from the trucks once a week, because the same water trucks also supply the three local schools.”

“We are really struggling to get water in this area,” said Langa.

Children wait their turn to fill containers at the borehole. Photo: Teboho Moloi

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Water

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