ACCESS to clean water is a human right, but Thembelani Sibanda is yet to enjoy this privilege that is guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s new Constitution.
Sibanda (34) is a mother of four and a newly-resettled farmer at the Chalet resettlement area in Insiza, about 63km outside Bulawayo in Matabeleland South.
The nearest source for potable water for this resettlement area is 15km away.
For years, Sibanda and her neighbours would take turns, using donkey-drawn carts, to fetch water in the next village.
“We tried as much as possible to save the water we fetched so that we didn’t burden ourselves in search of the precious liquid,” Sibanda said.
However, she was bubbling with joy on Saturday when a borehole was being sunk, right outside her homestead.
“I think I deserve this borehole as I risked contracting disease scavenging at refuse dumps for Sunlight washing power wrappers in order to win it (borehole),” Sibanda noted.
Unilever — the manufacturer of detergents like Sunlight and Omo washing powder — is running a promotion where consumers win various prizes depending on the amount of wrappers collected and Sibanda is one of the lucky winners.
Juliet Ziswa, the Unilever marketing director, said this was a three-year programme that would see 10 boreholes being sunk across the country under the Sunlight Chiedza/Ukukhanya campaign.
To win a borehole, one has to collect 5 000 Sunlight wrappers and Sibanda said it took her nearly two months to harvest them at dumpsites.
“I really wanted a borehole as water has been a problem in our area for years. The community will benefit a lot,” she indicated,
“I will also start a gardening project to make an income as I am unemployed.”
Samuel Mhlanga, a villager in the area, was also overjoyed saying “she is our saviour”. Ziswa said Unilever had embarked on a programme to make a difference in communities by empowering them.
“Water is life and as Unilever we made a decision to use Sunlight — Africa’s biggest detergent brand — to empower individuals and communities through the Sunlight Chiedza/Ukukhanya campaign with an aim to make water easily accessible while offering a carrying solution through buckets, tanks and containers,” she said.
“Our aim is to spread the happiness and make lives of Zimbabwean mothers easier through the provision of boreholes and water tanks.”
“By harvesting the wrappers and recycling them we are ensuring that the environment remains clean.”
According to Section 77 of the Constitution, citizens have a right to clean, potable water.
The United Nations also recognises the human right to water and calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help with capacity-building and technology transfer to aid countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
“For us, provision of clean drinking water takes precedence over power because of the number of deaths in the country caused by diarrhoeal diseases,” she said.
“Secondly, people in Zimbabwe have to walk long distances carrying buckets to access clean water.
“Provision of water, therefore, becomes an area of focus for the Sunlight brand.”
According to Ziswa, the drilling of Sibanda’s borehole becomes the third under the campaign, with the first two having been sunk in Mutoko and Hatcliffe in April this year.
She said over 10 000 families stand to benefit after all the 10 boreholes are sunk countrywide and added that this presented an opportunity to community to start self-help gardening and poultry projects.