By Nhau Mangirazi
Forty-six year old Reverend Agnes Chida does not regret being transferred from Harare to the rural outskirts of Hurungwe in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province in 2014.
Rev Chida is married to Rev Shepard Chida and both serve under the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. They have twin sets of children aged 13 and 19. They live at Chivakanenyama about 60 kilometres West of Karoi.
‘We are enjoying a good life as we are assured of clean water anytime of the day as long as there is wind. Water is readily available and life is simple for us. We have an all-year irrigation facility for our garden, maize field and chicken run,’’ she said beaming with pride.
About 100 meters from their homestead, is a windmill borehole that was installed in 1996 by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. Nearly 200 households are benefitting from the windmill borehole.
Livestock is also benefitting from the available water trench.
As an alternative source of clean energy, the windmill borehole has proved that it can sustain the livelihoods of communities through access to clean water for domestic use and irrigation among other needs.
The windmill borehole which is situated a few meters from the main tarred road linking Magunje and Zvipani under Headman Matawu is a source of inspiration for communities benefiting from renewable energy here.
It captures the visitor’s eye as it is visible from a distance. “Even tourists going to either Nyaminyami or Gokwe, pass through here and get water. No one is charged for the water as water is a God-given natural resource,” added Rev Agnes.
The borehole is used by children from the local primary and secondary schools, the local church and the community at large.
Chivakanenyama Primary School is one of the oldest schools in Hurungwe built by missionaries in 1952 while a secondary school was built in 1966. Currently, there are more than 700 pupils at the primary school and more than 300 attending the secondary school.
Rev Chida explained that the windmill borehole pumps water into two 5,000- litre tanks and another 10,000-litre tank.
‘We are mostly likely to have green maize in August as we are preparing the fields,’ said Rev Agnes Chida. They have an orchard of mangoes, bananas and guava trees.
“The water table is good for us as a community as it is 40 meters deep … so we are assured of water even during drought years,” her husband said.
Joyce Zata, 53, of Ruzende village about three kilometres away, is happy they have access to clean water.
“Unlike in some areas where the water is contaminated as people share it with animals, this windmill borehole has been a good solution to us,” said Zata.
Another villager, Theresa Mapara of Murimbika village agreed that it is good for them as women as they do their laundry chores at the borehole without any challenges.
Headman Chigango said although he is happy with windmill borehole, he is, however, worried by cases of vandalism committed by some members of the community.
‘Our main challenge is that some members of the community have vandalised the windmill of late and … this affects everyone,’’ said Chigango.
Rev Agnes Chida admitted that this was the biggest challenge they are facing.
‘Not everyone understands community ownership in its true sense and we have to endure such challenges. At one time, someone stripped it of some bolts and we had to seek donations to have it repaired,” she said.
Hurungwe Rural District Ward 25 councillor, under whom the area falls, Lovemore Mushawashi, said the availability of water to the communities proves that the some of the rural folk may achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal Number 6.
The Goal calls for policymakers to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
“We may be facing challenges about water and sanitation in our communities but the windmill borehole has proven that it can be easily achieved through natural resources and clean energy,” said Mushawashi in an interview.