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Boreholes, Boreholes Everywhere….And Not a Drop to Drink
By Mantoe Phakathi
Every day for the last four years, 52-year-old Tintfombi Msibi has had to walk past the borehole in her village of Ekuphakameni, one of the driest rural villages in southern Swaziland, to a dirty stream two kilometres away to collect drinking water.
“We’ve been struggling to get water in this community because the borehole the government installed for us broke down,” she told IPS.
The borehole was supplied to the community through the government Umtfombo Wekuphila Water Scheme on the condition that the beneficiaries of the project set up a fund for its maintenance.
However, Msibi said some community members were too poor to contribute the monthly payment of about 1.60 dollars.
“Most people are poor here, so they could not afford to pay,” she said.
In the end, because of the lack of maintenance, the borehole eventually broke down and the cost of repairs would have required each household to raise 10 times the amount they would have originally contributed. In a country where 63 percent of people live below the poverty line of two dollars a day, 17 dollars is considered a huge sum.
But Msibi’s community is not the only one struggling with access to water.
While Swaziland’s Rural Water department claims that 69 percent of the population has access to clean water, the Water Project, an NGO that helps African countries access safe water, says that some 90 percent of community water projects in this southern African nation are not working.