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Bank-financed project brings hope to water-starved Eswatini communities
The Ezulwini Valley in northwest of Eswatini is surrounded to the east by low mountains and is home to about 26,000 people. Currently the water supply in the area is both unreliable and inadequate.
Sithembiso Nhlabatsi, a 40-year-old casual laborer, lives with his daughter and his three sisters in the town of Ebuka, in the municipality of Ezulwini. They use community water, managed by a committee, whose members are elected by the local elders. In Ebuka, the water is sourced from a river, which means that the untreated water is not fit for human consumption, and the available quantity reduces during winter, the dry season.
Nhlabatsi has observed that people have become sick after consuming the community water. He too suffered from a rash after bathing with unclean water. His main challenge is that the water committee has to ration the water. “They can cut the water for three days, without informing us.” Many would then go to the river to fetch water but he can’t due to his handicap. “With my missing leg, the river is too far away.”
Therefore, he awaits the completion of the Ezulwini Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Service Delivery Project, which is due to be completed at the end of 2020. The project is financed by the African Development Bank, which granted a $24.25 million loan to the Government of Eswatini.
Towns like Ezabeni, the hometown of Sibongile Sukati, have already benefited from the project. Sukati used to have to rely on river water. She now purchases clean water from one of the kiosks installed in her locality, as part of the project. It costs 30 Emalangeni cents (less than $0.02) for a jerry can of 20 litres, which is an affordable option.
In addition to the construction of water kiosks, the Eswatini Water Services Corporation (EWSC), the project’s implementing agency, aims to meet the potable water requirements and improve the health and livelihood of the residents of the Ezulwini municipality. Mitchelle Dludlu, a 21-year-old student, is looking forward to implementing her plan to generate a small income: “As soon as the water kiosk is ready to use, my family and I will stop using the community water for drinking and cooking, but we will use it for gardening and for the livestock.” The residents of the Manzini region, about 20 km east of Ezulwini, are excited about the newly launched Manzini Water Supply and Sanitation Project. The Manzini Project is a $55 million loan to EWSC to expand access to water supply and sanitation services in the four peri-urban areas of this locality.
Mkhatjwa Mduduzi is a mathematics and social sciences teacher at the Gundvwini primary school, in Manzini district. The school has about 400 pupils, but there is no water access. The water tank is expensive to fill and the river is approximately 4 km away. He explained: “Often, the pupils have no water at home. We can’t offer them water either at school. It affects their learning process and there is nothing we can do about it.” The Manzini Water Supply and Sanitation Project will provide Gundvwini with water kiosks and an improved sanitation facility.