Changing Lives: A new borehole makes a difference for Mustvene

Every morning, 14-year-old Mutsvene Sibanda used to walk more than 5km to fetch water from the river. Life changed when a borehole was installed at his school.

Tatenda Ann Chimbwanda
Mutsvene Sibanda washes his hands at the new borehole standpipe at his school, Zeruvi Primary
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Tatenda Chimbwanda

22 May 2019

Zvishavane, Zimbabwe – Every morning 14-year-old Mutsvene Sibanda used to wake up with more than schoolwork on his mind. Before he could head to Zeruvi Primary School, the Grade 7 student had to walk more than 5km to help his mother carry water from the river to their home. For as long as he can remember, his school and the surrounding community have always struggled to get safe drinking water.

Mutsvene lives in Zvishavane, a drought-prone district surrounded by low hills. As the first-born child, it was Museveni’s responsibility to assist his mother because his siblings aged 8 and 5 were considered too young to undertake the task.  “If you saw the small stream we used to get water from, you wouldn’t believe it!” said Mutsvene. “The water was brown. It was just so dirty, but we had no choice. People used to bathe there, and our livestock used to drink from there too. l am even surprised we are still alive.”

 “If you saw the small stream we used to get water from, you wouldn’t believe it!”

Zeruvi Primary School pupils on their way to fetch water from the new borehole.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Tatenda Chimbwanda
Zeruvi Primary School pupils on their way to fetch water from the new borehole.

Often the burden of walking long distances to fetch water each morning became too much for Mustvene and he would skip school. Some of his classmates would opt to attend without bathing or would wear dirty uniforms.

A new borehole

Life changed for Mutsvene when a new borehole was opened in his school in August 2018. It was installed as part of the UNICEF Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme to provide safe water to schools and drought-affected communities and promote good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea and cholera. Some 567 primary students and 185 secondary students at Zeruvi School now have access to a safe drinking water supply.

The borehole also benefits the community and has made a significant impact on Mutsvene’s family. No longer required to make an early morning trek to fetch and carry water, Mutsvene now has time to concentrate on his schoolwork. His mother has also been relieved of this chore, as the new borehole is close to their homestead. “On a good day, my mother can make four trips to the borehole. Since the borehole is so close, my younger siblings also join her with small water containers,” said Mutsvene with a huge smile.

“This borehole is a miracle to my school and household. I now have clean drinking water. We now walk less than 1km to get this water.”

Mitigating the impact of drought

With funding from the Japan Committee for UNICEF, the UNICEF Emergency WASH Programme drilled boreholes and installed standpipes at 10 schools in the drought-affected districts of Mbire, Zvishavane and Binga to reach some 30,000 people (including 10,000 children). 

The programme includes periodic testing to monitor the quality of the water supply, and school handwashing facilities are being constructed or rehabilitated to support hygienic school feeding programmes. Hygiene promotion activities, related to food handling and personal hygiene, are also being conducted in the schools and communities.

Mutsvene could not be happier: “This borehole is a miracle to my school and household. I now have clean drinking water. We now walk less than 1km to get this water.”

Mutsvene Sibanda demonstrates one of the newly-installed standpipes at his school.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/T Chimbwanda
Mutsvene Sibanda demonstrates one of the newly-installed standpipes at his school.