Zimbabwe Water Made Safer
By David Tereshchuk *
April 23, 2012—Three years of dedicated effort have brought heartening change to north-eastern Zimbabwe, where United Methodists decided to move proactively to face their daunting challenges.
The community of Nyadire, home since the 1920s of the Nyadire United Methodist Mission, suffered terribly in a cholera outbreak in 2009 – and a determined program to improve public water supplies was begun.
It drew the support of UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief), the United Methodist Church of Finland, and The Nyadire Connection, a combined group of six United Methodist churches in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which have worked to help the Nyadire mission since 2006. The Nyadire Mission Water Committee, a key partner in this effort, ensures that the system is in good operating order.
Action and advocacy for Nyadire was already resulting in greater medical and nursing support and operational help with the mission’s orphanage.
But the importance of water was central. Zimbabwe’s National Water Authority (ZINWA) was providing treated water pumped from a local river, but it became unreliable, expensive, and unsafe.
As humanitarian problems within the country escalated in recent years, the ZINWA water supply became even more compromised, and the water itself was frequently of poor quality. Government pumps were stolen, pipelines vandalized, and water was diverted from the supply line for non-community uses.
Nyadire’s own local water resources suffered, too. But through extensive consultation with lay leaders, the mission’s Water Committee, and with other local stakeholders, a complete rehabilitation of Nydire’s water infrastructure was settled upon as the answer.
Work began. Three existing boreholes were repaired, new pumps installed, reservoirs rebuilt and canals reconstructed and dug afresh. Intensive training courses were set up to ensure continuing maintenance and repair for the system. And all the while, greater public awareness was continually encouraged about the importance of better hygiene practices.
On March 13, 2012, Resident Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa presided at a dedication ceremony, and the new system was formally commissioned.
Nyadire’s people can now operate and enjoy their own consistent supply of the most vital commodity in their lives – clean, safe water.
According to Taneal Kamuzungu, UMCOR Zimbabwe’s Special Projects Manager, the new provision is already making a difference. She says, “So far, the rehabilitation of the water system has helped 4,000 direct beneficiaries and almost 20,000 indirect beneficiaries – members of the community surrounding the Nyadire Mission.”
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*David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to UMCOR.org.