School gives wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion pi­lot a thumbs up

African Times - - News - MASHUDU SADIKE

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 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 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 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.

THUMBS UP: Pha­soane Se­condary School out­side Le­bowak­gomo has given the pi­lot project of the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy and the Capricorn District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity a nod. Photos: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/Vis­ual Buzz SA.

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