Government hands over WASH infrastructure to communities

April 4, 2023

DPM Hon Themba Masuku (second from left) and his delegation enjoy some water from one of the communal taps in the community.

UNDP/Mantoe Phakathi

Three rural communities under Mayiwane Inkhundla in the Hhohho Region now benefit and manage an over E4 Million (USD220 000) water infrastructure constructed under an IBSA-funded WASH Project. This follows the handover of the infrastructure to the community by the Deputy Prime Minister, Themba Masuku, on March 31 after the successful implementation of the two-year project. 

The three solar-powered boreholes, with a collective yield of four litres per second, supply over 1 500 people in the communities of Mangenge, Moyeni and Masheleleni. Residents, especially women and children, no longer have to travel long distances to fetch water from rivers, Dumisile Mabuza, the Chairperson of Mangenge Water Committee, told the DPM and his delegation. 

“We fetched unsafe water from the river, but we had no choice,” said Mabuza, adding: “That is why we are happy with this project because it has not only given us water but an opportunity to lead healthy lives.” 

The project also trained about 50 lead farmers in rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation and established demonstration plots to share expertise with about 400 secondary farmers on backyard vegetable production. It also trained 50 local women to start soap-making enterprises to diversify their income. 

Local women dancing at the event to demonstrate their appreciation of the project.

UNDP/Mantoe Phakathi

Addressing the residents during the handover ceremony, Masuku acknowledged the community and traditional leadership for embracing this initiative. He further urged the community to take care of the infrastructure that gives them access to water, enhances hygiene and improves food security. 

“I’m happy that the community is happy with the project and would like to urge them to take good care of their assets for its continued sustainability,” said Masuku. 

He also expressed his appreciation to the IBSA countries (India, Brazil and South Africa) for funding about USD1 Million (E15 Million), which made implementing the project possible. He further applauded the WaterAid and the National Development Management Agency (NDMA) for their USD75,000 (E1 140 000) and USD55,000 (E840 100) contributions, respectively. Hon. Masuku also acknowledged UNDP for playing a significant role in assisting Eswatini in securing the funding and overseeing the process.

In response, UNDP Resident Representative Rose Ssebatindira said the project had demonstrated the interdependence between water, health and poverty alleviation hence the need to replicate the best practices elsewhere.

“Access to clean water alleviates the burden that women and girls have of travelling long distances to fetch water so that they can invest their energy and time in other income-generation activities,” she said.

She said the UNDP partnership with NDMA, Water AID, Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT), Matsapha and Mbabane municipalities and community groups in delivering the project is vital in facilitating development. Ssebatindira reported that, following the successful implementation of the project, UNDP mobilised an additional E800 000 (USD45 000) under the SDG Joint Fund to replicate such an initiative in another community within the region.

The Head of the Political Sector at the Brazil Embassy in Maputo, Pedro Panha, said it was a relief to see the results of the work demonstrating that access to water can improve people’s lives. 

“Giving people an opportunity to thrive is one of the things that my country attributes enormous importance to,” he said. Panha added that IBSA is an idea that was developed 20 years ago when the three developing countries decided to come together to help other developing countries under South-South Cooperation. 

The Acting High Commissioner of India in Eswatini, HE Brahmam Jagabatunni, said the community could multiply this support ten times and shared experiences from India about how grants can help developing countries. He said that India received food aid and grants from developed countries, mainly Europe and the Americas, because of the impact of drought or floods from 1947 to the late 60s.

“So, from the late 60s and 70s, we were able to be self-reliant and produced enough food for the entire population, at this time is it 1.4 billion,” he said, adding: “We are not only self-reliant, but we are producing food for export.”

He said Eswatini has the potential to reach such levels through support from grants.