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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Daily Usage: Zimbabwe

Water in Africa

Africa, Zimbabwe

by Steven Jacobson, Takaliawa (Matebeleland South), Zimbabwe

Sunday is my big water day. I get up early before the sun becomes too hot and head off to the borehole one kilometer away. I take my two 20-liter water jugs (tied together with a rope) and throw them over my bike frame. I fill them both, struggle back onto the bike, and push through the sand. Upon my return I rest for a few minutes, and then proceed to wash all of my dirty clothes. It takes about 20 liters and two hours to scrub a week's worth of dirt out of my pants, shirts, underwear, and, most importantly, socks. I wash some dishes and fill my solar shower bags for that night. I then drink some water, use some water to cook and also shave (I shave twice a week—with one small razor and a compact mirror). In the afternoon I play soccer and get really dirty. I come home to cook and drink more water. By then my water is hot in the solar shower, so I bathe, using about three liters of water. Finally, I feel clean again, but by then I'm out of water. It's off to the borehole once more!

by Robert Joppa, Gumira, Chipinge District, Zimbabwe

The people here use water in much the same way as we do in the States—bathing, cleaning, cooking, brushing teeth, drinking, etc. But the quantity is much less. I use about 100 liters of water per week.

Cottage industries in Gumira rely heavily on water. Most of the crafts Mr. Mboda makes all need water to make the wood or reeds more pliable. Brickmakers need water to mix with clay before molding. In building my house we depended on water for mixing concrete and thatching. Many people even risk their lives fishing in the Save River (it is crocodile infested). Last week, one man lost his life to a hungry crocodile while trying to earn a meager $15 Zimbabwean (US$0.39) for two or three fish. Also, many gardeners who plant along the river water their plants once or twice a day. Many people in the area gather salt-laden soil, soak it in water, and then boil the water after filtering through a cloth. When muc of the water is boiled off into steam, a poor quality brown salt remains, which can be used in cooking. Regular salt costs a lot, and many people have difficulty affording it.

by Christopher Thomas, Masonga/Samhutsa, Zimbabwe

Because of the abundance of water here, there is not much difference between the way I use water here and the way I used it at home. The only difference is that I have to fetch it myself (my host mother usually gets it for me because it is not acceptable for men to get their own water here). Also, I use less than I did in the States. I use the water that my host brother fetches from the river for washing dishes and clothes and for showering in the morning. I usually try to use it more than once to avoid someone having to carry more up the hill to my house. I carry from the spring the water I use for cooking and drinking.

People here also use the water from the spring or boreholes for drinking and cooking and for watering their gardens and for bathing. Water taken directly from the river is never used for drinking or cooking. It is used mainly for irrigating the gardens in the dry season or for washing clothes and dishes. Every morning the younger children of the family can be found along the river bank washing the last night's nadza pots (nadza is the local staple food, which is made of maize), plates, and spoons.

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