Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

The Source of Our Water: Lesotho

Water in Africa

Africa, Lesotho

by Peter Yurich, Ha Khayensti, Lesotho

My village, Ha Ntlale, gets its water from a tap that is fed from a spring box on the mountain. When there is no water at the tap, I must go to the next village or go to a water hole some distance away. I dip the water from the hole and carry it to my house. Often I find the cows, sheep, goats, or donkeys drinking at the water hole. Needless to say I boil all my water and always try to keep two buckets in reserve.

by MaryAnn Camp, Ha Rantubu, Lesotho

The source of my water is a borehole. There are six wells in my village of more than 1,000 people. The women and children begin very early in the morning getting water for bathing and cooking. Most of the time it is carried on the heads of the women. The children bring wheelbarrows. The containers are 20-liter plastic jugs.

My water is delivered by my family to my door, 20 liters every other day. Although the water usually looks clear, sometimes there is debris. I boil all of my drinking water for three minutes. My bathing and washing water I do not boil. The water tastes good without a chemical residue.

Water in my part of Lesotho is always hard to come by. In my previous village site of Mofeteng, the wells were almost dry and I had to arrange to get two 50-liter drums of water from my camptown. This happened every two weeks when I'd go to the extension office for a meeting. The barrels were filled at the local water supply office with a rubber hose. This water always had a muddy residue on the bottom of the containers.

by Claire Hilger, Christ the King Mission, Qacha's Nek, Lesotho

My water is pumped from a spring at the mission and comes through pipes right to a regular sink in my house. The water quality is very good. I do not need to filter it or boil it. I have never run out of water, but my students often do. The taps and toilets in their hostel have been turned off because they were told they were wasting it. So, instead, they draw it from rain collection tanks. When this runs out they usually fetch from the nearby village spring. The villagers beat them away with sticks, though. After a while the sisters will usually see reason and allow one teacher to pump water for them to the school and they collect it there. All of the water on the mission usually runs out in a few months at exam time, just when the rainy season is due to begin. It doesn't look like the supply will hold out this year. Water throughout this country is unevenly distributed. If village people try to go to another village where the water is more plentiful, they will often be chased away.

by Cynthia Holahan, Ha Nkoka, Thaba-Tseka District, Lesotho

The water source in my village is a public tap—actually a series of taps, located throughout the village. The system is fairly new, installed by Rural Water Supply in 1996. The system is a series of underground and above-the-ground pipes that carry pumped water from a spring near the top of one of the village's mountaintops. I have to say I am quite lucky, compared with other Peace Corps Volunteers. Water has never been a problem. The tap nearest my house did dry out for a few days during the dry season, but villagers were able to collect water from another tap less than a kilometer away.

In general, the water system seems to be quite good. I have spoken to people of neighboring villages who have yet to install a water system and they are having many water troubles. Their sources are slow and unreliable boreholes that are dirty—used as drinking water by cows and goats. I consider myself a blessed Peace Corps Volunteer for having such a reliable water source.

by Becki Krieg, Qacha's Nek, Lesotho

Most drinking water comes from one of three sources: a tap or pump, a natural spring, or collected rainwater. Except for the rainwater, the water has to be transported from the source to the people's houses. This is not an easy task. Water is heavy and people must walk one or two miles on rocky mountainous paths.

Many villages have a water source within a 30-minute walk. Taps are the best. Just turn the handle and water pours! The pumps take more effort. Some are long levers that look like one-sided teeter-totters. Children will bounce them up and down with their whole bodies. Some are two handles that need to be turned like the pedals on a bicycle. And still others need to be cranked in circles horizontally.

But even taps or pumps are no guarantee of water. Sometimes the water flows only for a few hours a day, often early in the morning around 5 o'clock. Villagers must wake up this early to get their buckets in line and wait for the water. Sometimes the taps dry completely and people must walk even farther to another village or natural spring. (Remember how hard it is to carry water?)

Natural springs are good, but people need to scoop the water into buckets, which can take a long time. Rainwater is collected from most metal roofs, but the traditional houses have thatched roofs. And the dry season can last a long time, which makes collecting rainwater ineffective during that time.

My water comes from all of these sources. I need to pay someone to collect my water from a tap or spring, whichever is available. I can't do it myself. It is too far to carry those heavy buckets and I haven't mastered carrying them on my head! If it rains, my host family will collect rainwater from their metal roof. My house is next to theirs, but my roof is thatch.

by Amy Bratsch, Ha Thamere-Qutin-Mount Moorosi, Lesotho

The water in our area comes from the mountain rivers and streams. It is released for the villagers through water taps and is quite clear and clean. However, I do boil my drinking water because there is no method of purification.

About six months out of the year—during the dry season—water is available only every other day in the morning. Each household usually receives one bucket. Sometimes the village goes four days without water. During the rainy season the taps are open daily.

by JeanMarie Mitchell, Ha Tebelo, Lesotho

The water in my village comes from a borehole, or cilibeng. When it is the rainy season (December–February) there is plenty of water. The rest of the year, however, is pure drought. The well usually has water only at 6 a.m., but sometimes at 5 p.m. also. The villagers have to travel to neighboring villages to get water. I boil water for visitors because people have gotten diarrhea from it, however it does not seem to affect me. There are also many taps in my village.


World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.