A SURVEY done by the Rural Communities Empowerment Trust (Rucet) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) in Matabeleland North and South has revealed that most resettlement schools are experiencing serious water challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
BY SILAS NKALA
Rucet chairperson Thunyiwe Zidla, who is based in Lupane, said children end up resorting to open water sources in desperations.
“In Matabeleland North and particularly Lupane, this pandemic came at a time there is a water crisis due to poor rains and reduced levels of water tables,” Zidla said.
“The implications are that people have to share the limited water sources with livestock. This has a negative impact on rural schools when it comes to sanitation and hygiene issues,” she said.
Zidla said some areas like Dongamuzi were forced to use water from unsafe sources, adding that Mathambo Secondary School was one of the worst affected.
The survey revealed that at Mathambo Secondary School, the water source had dried up, while Vulindlela Primary School, which used to depend on Shangani River for water, is struggling to get the precious liquid as the river has dried up.
It also established that out of 10 resettlement schools in Matabeleland North, 80% had water challenges.
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PTUZ Matabeleland South provincial co-ordinator Urgent Moyo said most of the schools in the province were not provided with COVID-19 personal protective equipment, while boreholes in areas such as Halisupi, Mawaza and Gungwe in Gwanda had dried up.
Moyo said in resettlement areas, for example, at Sikhwili Khohli Moyo Secondary School at Nsindi Farm in Gwanda, teachers and pupils were walking more than 10km in search of water.
Rucet co-ordinator Vumani Ndlovu said COVID-19 had worsened the challenges in Matabeleland North and South where low pass rates have always been recorded, and would be worse this year given that there was no learning.
“Pupils from urban schools were doing e-learning, radio lessons and private lessons, but such facilities were not available for rural children due to network challenges, poor radio signals and inability to pay teachers for private lessons,” Ndlovu said.
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