Clean water is not easy to access for many of Zimbabweans, especially those living in rural areas in this south African country. People there have to walk several kilometers to get to rivers or ponds to collect water.
Since 2012, China has funded more than 1,000 wells to relieve water shortages in Zimbabwe, giving over 400,000 people access to clean water.
Lumene village is located in Matabeleland South province in Zimbabwe. Affected by factors such as geological conditions and a dry climate, the village lacks water. Wells there drilled in years past have dried up due to the area's declining water table. In August 2021, a well built with the aid of the Chinese government was completed in this village, bringing water to more than 300 villagers and thousands of people in surrounding villages.
Notongkaozhao Ngurube, a 49-year-old villager, said it used to take her two to three hours to fetch water every day. But with the well nearby, she now has more time to handle other housework, like taking care of a small vegetable garden. The well changed her life, Ngurube said.
Villagers used to get water that was unclean, said Lubkos Mariela, a local councilor. Mariela added that because the water is often between humans and animals, many villagers have contracted dysentery, cholera, typhoid and other diseases. The well's water is clean and available at any time, greatly improving the villagers' health. Now no villagers got sickness caused by water source, Mariela said.
Senondo Primary School in Gwanda, the provincial capital of Matabeleland South, was founded in 1992. For many years, the school has relied on the municipal water supply, but it has become increasingly unstable in recent years. Sometimes the water didn't come for more than a month, seriously affecting more than 1,600 students and teachers in the school.
Principal Joyce Mudrongua said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, water for hand-washing became especially important. However, the school did not even have enough water to flush its toilets, let alone tap water for washing hands. The school had to close for a time and arrange for students to study on their own at home.
A China-funded well for the school was completed in August. The students now have safe drinking water and do not have to bring water from home every day, Mudrongua said, adding that they are able to wash their hands regularly, reducing the possibility of virus transmission.
In addition to Zimbabwe, the Chinese government has also funded water well assistance projects in Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Senegal and many other African countries over the years.
A well built by the Chinese government for Zimbabwe
Villagers in Lumene village draw water from a well funded by China
Students of Senondo Primary School drink water from the well.