‘Wa­ter scarcity af­fects women the most’

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

MAFETENG — Polotso Mokhasi is a nurs­ing mother from Ha Ral­itabo in Kolo, Mafeteng.

Hav­ing grown up in the iso­lated vil­lage, she knows only too well the strug­gle to ac­cess wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene ameni­ties. With no run­ning wa­ter or ma­jor wa­ter source nearby, Ms Mokhasi and other vil­lagers had to walk for kilo­me­tres search­ing for any wa­ter they could find; never mind if it was clean or not.

When she was due to give birth, Ms Mokhasi hoped and prayed her wa­ter would break dur­ing the day.

This would mean she would have a chance to travel to ei­ther one of the near­est clin­ics in Mot­sekuoa and Mafeteng, both of which are more than five kilo­me­tres from the vil­lage.

“The near­est clin­ics are in Mot­sekuoa and Mafeteng. Be­cause of the long dis­tance, I had to give birth at home, at­tended by un­trained women,” the 21-year old Ms Mokhasi told the Le­sotho Times.

She said the women who as­sisted her in giv­ing birth couldn’t find wa­ter to wash their hands, en­dan­ger­ing their health and that of the mother and baby.

“Even if you are not a mother, you can still ap­pre­ci­ate how del­i­cate giv­ing birth is. Imag­ine un­der­go­ing such a pro­cess where there is scarcely any wa­ter. It was a hor­ren­dous ex­pe­ri­ence, and I can only hope no one else ever has to go through that or­deal.”

Ms Mokhasi said she went to the near­est health cen­tre the fol­low­ing morn­ing for a check-up and was told mother and child were healthy. How­ever, the strug­gle to find wa­ter for her­self and her baby had only just be­gun.

“We needed wa­ter to wash nap- pies and just take a proper bath for ba­sic hy­gienic pur­poses. Such ba­sic needs were a lux­ury for us grow­ing up in this vil­lage.”

Much to her great re­lief and de­light, the Ministry of Wa­ter Af­fairs’ Ru­ral Wa­ter Sup­ply wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion project fi­nally came to Ha Ral­itabo.

Ha Ral­itabo is one of five vil­lages in Mafeteng for which the ministry al­lo­cated M6 413 209 to­wards build­ing com­mu­nal taps and house­hold toi­lets in the last fi­nan­cial year.

Ms Mokhasi told the Le­sotho Times dur­ing the of­fi­cial hand-over cer­e­mony of the project this past week her tra­vails were fi­nally over.

“Fi­nally, I don’t have to walk for kilo­me­tres to get wa­ter. I am glad gov­ern­ment re­mem­bered us,” she said.

The so­lar-pow­ered bore­hole has also been a god­send for 78-year old granny, Sophia Ral­itabo, who had tected sources,” said the leg­is­la­tor.

“There is no school in this vil­lage, and the near­est are found in Ha Tanka and Ha Mphasa. So learn­ers have to walk for ap­prox­i­mately an hour to get to school.

“Al­though both boys and girls were af­fected by wa­ter scarcity, girl chil­dren were the most af­fected be­cause as soon as they ar­rived at home, they were forced to travel yet an­other long dis­tance to col­lect wa­ter.”

He said that meant girl chil­dren were un­able to prop­erly con­cen­trate on their school­work and home work since they would be tired from col­lect­ing wa­ter.

The end re­sult for many girls, Mr Lehloenya said, was fail­ing their end-of-year ex­am­i­na­tions and drop­ping out of school.

“Some even­tu­ally got mar­ried while still un­der­age. This is why I am happy for Ha Ral­itabo vil­lage in its new­found ac­cess to clean and safe wa­ter,” he said.

“It means our girl chil­dren will now have more time to con­cen­trate on their school work and com­pete with their male coun­ter­parts on a more level play­ing field.”

For his part, Wa­ter Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ralechate ‘Mokose said it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment to en­sure ev­ery cit­i­zen could ac­cess potable wa­ter.

“Ev­ery cit­i­zen should ac­cess clean and safe wa­ter. How­ever, due to fi­nan­cial con­straints, we can only de­liver ser­vices bit by bit,” Mr ‘Mokose said.

“We are here in Ha Ral­itabo be­cause we re­alised your vil­lage ur­gently needed wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion im­me­di­ately. Giv­ing you ac­cess to clean and safe wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion is giv­ing you back your dig­nity, es­pe­cially women as we know your suf­fer­ings.”

Wa­ter af­fairs Min­is­ter ralechate ‘Mokose launches the wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion project.

one of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries Sophia Ral­itabo (78).

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