What seemed like an everyday reality of diarrhoea and stomach cramps could be a fading memory for learners at the Phasoane Secondary School in Malatane village near Lebowakgomo in Limpopo.
Learners at the school have been drinking non purified water coming out of the Oliphant’s River which was deemed unhealthy for human consumption, causing them to constantly be sick.
In February 2017, the Department of Science and Technology and The Capricorn District Municipality, started piloting a house water purification system called Point of Water Use (POU).
The purification system entails putting river water in a bucket, the water gets trapped in the fibre, gets filtered and ready for immediate consumption. Community members and the school received some of the buckets to test the system.
Speaking to African Times, technician of Water Planning and Design, Ellias Nkuna, said that the landscape and scattered houses in rural areas made it extremely difficult to provide pipe treated water to households.
However Nkuna admits that the project needs more money from the district to get more buckets from suppliers to service the rest of the community, clinics and schools.
“250 buckets cover 80 percent of the villages’ households according to the local councillor” Nkuna said.
Nkuna’s words were echoed by leaners and teachers at the school as well as community members around the village.
15 year-old Baleseng Naka and Seithati Bapela, also 15, Grade 10 learners at the school said that they sometimes had to drink water from the tap, resulting in them getting sick because the one bucket they share with 266 other children and 12 teachers was not enough for them.
“We just need more buckets. The water that comes from the bucket is much healthier than water from the taps. The bucket is very good and if every class had one bucket it would make our lives even better,” they said.
Lerato Mazwi, a teacher at the school and a mother of three children from Lebowakgomo believes that the bucket system could have more potential if the size was increased.
“Ever since it was introduced to us last year we have benefited a lot from the project but we need the bucket to increase in size so that it benefits all of us,” said Mazwi.
A 62 year old community member Lesiba Kanyane had other ideas on how to solve water glitches in the area. He said that he drank rain water from his reservoir and was much healthier because of the natural water.
The initial point of use water treatment units developed through a Water Research Commission (WRC) funded project Apart from technology deployment, this project also focused on technology transfer and capacity building in the communities to facilitate the continuation of the project after project exit, and further rollout. Guidelines on implementing the POU rural water filtering a new municipality and how to operate and maintain the units.
Speaking at the State of The District Address Mayor John Mpe promised that they were going to spend R299 million to complete water purification projects in about 15 villages including Lebowakgomo in order to benefit 39 307 residents in the villages.
“These are rolled out on a multi-phase approach between now and 2021. In addition, plans are afoot to roll out a groundwater project to benefit communities in 10 villages,” said Mpe.