Limpopo water shortages: will local elections ease the desperation?

Villagers from Elim, in Limpopo, should not optimistic that water shortages in the space will be resolved, regardless of local elections looming. For years, their pleas to local authorities have fallen on deaf ears.

Speaking to Health-e News, group chief and Elim resident Vicky Muvhali mentioned residents have confronted vital challenges as a result of water shortages, regardless of numerous appeals to the local municipalities.

“I believe we have suffered enough. After years of raising the same issue with the Vhembe District Municipality and the Makhado Local Municipality, nothing has been done. It seems like our pleas for the provision of running water are being ignored by those in power,” mentioned Muvhali.

“Even the hospital does not have running water and it requires a significant amount of water to operate. Last year, we raised the issue with both the Department of Health and the Vhembe District Municipality, and a borehole was drilled at the hospital. However, the water from the borehole is not enough, leading to the hospital experiencing regular water interruptions.”

Muvhali added that residents’ water woes are more likely to proceed for years, as the Vhembe District Municipality has didn’t even keep boreholes in the surrounding villages.

“Our villages have boreholes that are meant to supply us with water, but they are always broken due to poor maintenance and when the municipality does decide to repair them, they always do a shoddy job. Within few days, the boreholes are often reported broken again.”

Elim Hospital depends on water tankers

Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana mentioned the water shortages someday forces the hospital to depend on water tankers equipped by the municipality.

“Water shortages have been affecting Elim hospital for quite some time due to illegal connections and we have, on several occasions, tried to address the problem with the local traditional leadership, but we have not succeeded. The hospital requires water to operate, so water shortages cause serious challenges,” mentioned Shikwambana.

Villages surrounding the hospital, corresponding to Mpheni, Waterval, Magangeni, Mutonga and Shirly, have been experiencing water shortages for years, which allegedly drove some residents to attract water illegally from the hospital’s predominant pipeline, which has created water woes for each the healthcare facility and surrounding communities.

As a short lived answer, the Vhembe municipality drilled a borehole final year to produce water to the hospital, this has failed to fulfill the facility’s consumption calls for.

Local villagers mentioned that for years they’ve been compelled to purchase water for family use from residents who’ve non-public boreholes. This has proved too costly for some, as a five-litre bucket of water prices R3.00.

Life is hard with out water

For Waterval resident Mavhungu Mudzhadzhi, life is extraordinarily troublesome with out water.

“Having to buy water is very painful, especially as I have a government tap at my home, which I paid for. But it does not provide me with a single drop of water. A bucket of water cost R3.00, which is a lot of money. To make matters worse, in my house we have a flushing toilet that also requires water. So we must save the little water that we purchase from our neighbours to use for the toilet too,” mentioned Mudzhadzhi.

“Sometimes we are forced to contend with an unbearable smell in the house, as we are unable to flush the toilet due to not having water. It is so painful, especially that the government we voted for is failing to provide us with water. I am not even looking forward to the upcoming elections, as I know that nothing is going to change.”

During the final week of September, residents from Elim villages, with the assist of Limpopo-based civil group, Vumbanani for Peacebuilding, submitted a memorandum of grievances to the Vhembe District Municipality.

Vumbanani administrator Tendai Chandigere mentioned they’re involved about lack of provision of unpolluted ingesting water to the residents of Elim.

Continuing to undergo

“We have been trying to raise concerns about water shortages in Elim villages since 2017, but it seems like nothing is going to happen anytime soon, yet residents continue to suffer. We recently marched and handed a memorandum of our grievances to the executive mayor of Vhembe, but we are still awaiting a response. One of our suggestions is that a bulk main water pipeline be erected from the multimillion-rand Nandoni dam, which will supply us with water and address the water shortages at Elim hospital,” mentioned Chandigere.

“Water is life and it is everyone’s right to have access to clean water, but for Elim residents water remains a scarce resource. Those who cannot afford to purchase water are bound to suffer. Hence, we have joined hands with residents to fight for water provision for everyone.”

Vote properly

Mashudu Mulaudzi, from Mpheni village, believes the upcoming local authorities elections may present an answer to Limpopo water shortages in the space if individuals vote properly.

“Water is everything and without it life is not easy, especially now that we are living with COVID-19, which requires us to wash our hands with soap and water regularly. Without water, it is difficult to adhere to this as we must preserve the little water we buy for things like cooking and drinking,” mentioned Mulaudzi.

“I believe that we have suffered enough, and I also believe that as residents we have power within our hands to change all that, which is our votes as it seems like people whom we have previously voted for do not care about our needs and rights. So, with elections coming in few weeks, we must vote wisely in order to change the current situations which we find ourselves in”.

–Health-e News

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