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Bhale villagers come together to build a dam year after the responsible authorities fail them. Image by The Citizen Bulletin
With the support of a non-governmental organisation, the community, secluded from the rest of the world may soon have a water source nearby.
HWANGE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Seventeen kilometres east of Hwange town, along the Hwange–Dete highway lies a hushed community that is far from the madding crowd. Travelling to this community which is known as Bhale village is not easy; the bumpy, rocky road which meanders across the mountains leads to the community where there is no clinic neither is there a school nor a water source.
It is in this community where the spirit of oneness for development still exists. The village which is dominated by IsiDombe speaking people, a Tonga dialect has seen better days. The villagers, young and old, have come together to build a dam, an infrastructural development project which has taken ages for the responsible authority to do.
Bhale village is characterized by many Baobab and Mopani trees that scatter around the village, a sign that the area receives little or no rainfall yearly and the aridity leads to hunger.
Although the village is not easily accessible due to the very bad state of the roads, a visit by The Citizen Bulletin to the village opened our eyes to grasp that innovation is possible regardless of geographic location.
From as early as 6 a.m. women and young girls dig sand and push wheelbarrows full of materials used in constructing the dam, like ants they collaborate and are united to achieve one goal of development.
“The construction of the dam has become a community project which everyone wants to see succeed, it is everyone goal that we come here as early as possible to build this dam,” says Luke Mudimba
“We were fortunate that this year we had a lot of rain for the first time in so many decades, the heavy rains resulted in a huge water pond which we are now upgrading to a dam,” says Mudimba who is part of the team building the dam.
Water pond which is being upgraded to a dam. Image by The Citizen Bulletin
With the help of the World Vision, the community is building the dam using their manpower for household use as well as a water source for their livestock.
“We have lost our livestock due to the lack of a water source in our village, therefore to help our livestock we drive our cattle to the Gwayi River for water,” he adds.
Gwayi River is more than 20 kilometres away from the village and driving the cattle for those kilometres compromises the health of the livestock.
“Driving the cattle to Gwayi River further exposes our livestock to wild animals which usually attack the animals since we co-habit with wild such as hyenas and lions.”
Although the Bhale community is under the Hwange rural district council, the community blames the local authority who they say it has turned a deaf ear towards their grievances.
“Most people don’t want to come to us because it is difficult to access us, I am surprised you managed to come, the road is just too bad and there is no network, no clinic and no school, I sometimes wonder if the rest of the world really know that we exist here.”
Lovemore Mudenda, another villager helping in the dam construction
“We had to take the matter of dam construction into our own hands and do it ourselves because our local authorities have given us deaf ears, they cannot hear us. We are grateful that the World vision organization is extending their helping hand to us,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Hwange World Vision Area Development manager, Mr Lovemore Nyoni says the organization is helping the Bhale community in constructing the dam as an intervention on the effects of climate change.
“Hwange is a very arid area receiving less rainfall for agriculture resulting in food insecurity, now the establishment of the dam brings dignity and sustainability,” says Nyoni.
Farming in this area is crucial, women grow sorghum extensively while the men are more focused on rearing the cattle and making sure they drive the livestock to safer greener pastures. Although the community is yearning for development, they are still lagging in development.
“Our village is peaceful and united, but one thing we desire to see, is our community having a source of water, a clinic and a school which will benefit our children and our future generations,” says Bengani Mathe an elderly woman from Bhale.
The community is constructing a dam with a reservoir of 100 000m3, the dam will provide water for more than 200 households in the Bhale community.
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