By Elvis Dumba
Banket – Tracy Zvirevo ( not her real name), aged 10, walks barefooted as she approaches a bush pump borehole with two empty 20-litre containers. She awaits her chance in the queue since many other women and children were already at the borehole before her arrival.
After a short while, the three ladies who were taking turns to pump the water tell her they are done. As Tracy begins to draw the precious liquid, a group of rowdy youths also arrive at the borehole and go straight to have their containers filled up. Sheepishly, Tracy removes the containers and sits on one of them while waiting for another chance.
After what seems an eternity, Tracy finally got the chance to fetch the water.
“Please help me in carrying my bucket on my head?” she asked a passerby who obliged. Tracy left the other buckets under the watch of a friend.
This scenario is a common feature in Banket where perennial water challenges have been going for a long time. Hardly do the residents get water for 24 hours a day. The Zimbabwe National Authority (ZINWA), the water supplier, cites one challenge after another. It’s either the excuse of burst pipes or the unavailability of electricity.
Children in Banket are also feeling the heat of water challenges as they are now forced to spend more time at the boreholes fetching water.
The water challenges have exposed children, particularly the girl child. This is so because sometimes they fetch water in the evenings when few people would be using the boreholes, exposing them to vices such as rape.
“My mom is a fruit vendor on the highway and usually comes home around 5 pm. She expects to see water in the house so I have to come to the borehole” Tracy told this publication
Although Zimbabwe National Water Authority has said they have refurbished the mainline which supplies water to Banket, aged pipes around the town have affected the consistent supply of water due to pipe bursts.
A well-wisher, Faynaz Rayman of the Zimbabwe Islamic Trust assisted in the rehabilitation of five boreholes that the local authority was failing to service.
“I saw the need to get these boreholes up and running again after I discovered there were massive water challenges in Banket. Residents (including children) swarmed our Islamic Center to have water since we do have a borehole,” he said.
A local social worker with Mumvuri Orphan Care Center in Banket, Hazvinei Musokeri, said a lot of young people, some under 12 years of age, are forced to spend more time fetching water instead of studying.
“Most parents are using the prolonged closure of schools as a chance for children to help in household chores with the major chore being water fetching since Banket has got water challenges,” he said.
Musokeri said teenagers have also taken advantage of the water challenges in organizing dates under the guise of fetching water during the evenings.
Banket has an approximate population of 7 000 people who rely on eight boreholes dotted around the town.
Young people under the ages of fifteen make the bulk of people at a borehole at any given time.