SADC-GMI and Government of Eswatini transform lives of the communities through Groundwater Monitoring Project
St Paul Primary School, one of the local institutions who benefited from the project. Seen on the picture is Solar Panel and a water point for the school.
The SADC Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) in collaboration with the Government of Eswatini (Department of Water Affairs) have successfully managed to bring potable water to the communities of Eswatini through the implementation of the project “Groundwater Monitoring and Installation of Solar powered pumps at selected localities in the country”.
With funding from the World Bank and technical guidance from SADC-GMI, The Kingdom of Eswatini implemented the project on ten (10) monitoring and four (4) renewable energy selected sites, respectively. The sites are distributed over four River Basins: the Lomati, Nkomati, Mbuluzi and Lusutfu. Each site is unique in its hydrogeological, social, and environmental setting. These are aquifers with different stress levels exerted by various elements. The implementation stage of the project introduced an additional site as the result of water quality challenges on one production sites requiring redirection of resources to another institution. This resulted in the project having 7 monitoring stations and 4 production sites.
As part of the project implementation, solar powered renewable energy systems were constructed at the groundwater monitoring stations to enhance aquifer recharge performance. This was aimed at generating evidence on the performance of groundwater when pumped with solar compared to electricity. Going forward this will provide evidence on the appropriate recommendations to be made on the best choice of energy supply for pumping in the country to be pursued and advocated for in future.
“As a country we embarked on this project because we wanted to know the effect of climate change on groundwater resources in the country,” said Mr. Ncamiso Mhlanga, WaterAid Country Director. As WaterAid we are very proud to have partnered with SADC-GMI and the Government of Eswatini to resuscitate the groundwater monitoring system in the country, a system that will help decision makers to understand the impact of rainfall on groundwater recharge and help them take necessary steps in order to emphasize the importance of groundwater in the country”. He said Eswatini is committed to ensure that this groundwater monitoring system increases and benefits the poor people of Eswatini.
Men fetching water from Mjoli Dam, known for housing dangerous animals such as crocodiles and hippopotamus. The picture was taken prior to the project completion.
The project benefitted seven local institutions (5 schools and two clinics) and communities. Beneficiaries from local schools and clinics now have access to clean water for domestic use – cooking, cleaning, gardening and sanitation. Learners from the benefiting schools say before the project, on the days without water, they used to walk about 2km to fetch water from the nearby streams or from the neighbors. They said this practice led to children developing water-bone diseases. Beneficiaries from Mjoli say the project did not only provide water but also saved their lives as they used to fetch water from Mjoli dam which placed their lives in harm’s way as the dam is habitat to crocodiles and hippopotamus. Fetching water from the dangerous dam was a daily risk for the men and women of Mjoli area.
Beneficiaries say the project has transformed their livelihoods in many ways.
Prior to the project implementation, Mseni primary school used an old borehole that often broke down and was not a reliable source of water. Sometimes the school had to find alternatives sources of water especially for drinking and sanitation purposes. Lack of clean and safe drinking water deprived learners of good education, as they had to spend some considerable time looking for alternative sources of water to survive during school hours. “This project has changed the lives of our learners drastically,” said Ms Wendy Dlamini, Principal at Mseni primary School. Learners said the new water source will help them keep their classrooms clean and wash hands regularly which is critical as the globe is battling against the Covid – 19 pandemic.
Mr. Bongumenzi Mdluli, a male nurse from Ekufikeni Clinic echoed the same sentiments saying Ekufikeni Clinic had the same challenge (lack of access to clean water). They received water from the spring which did not produce clean water for domestic consumption. The project has helped improve livelihoods of staff members and the community that visit the clinic on daily basis.
Mr. James Sauramaba, SADC-GMI Executive Director said this is one of the success story pilot projects that SADC-GMI implemented within the framework of the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project. He said the Eswatini project was based on the 4I’s model as pursued by SADC-GMI (Institutions, Information, Infrastructure and Instruments). Within infrastructure the project was able to provide infrastructure to access the water for grassroot level communities to support their endeavors in coping with impacts of climate change and build resilience. Mr. Sauramba also highlighted that this project supported the generation of data which is pivotal for the generation of information to support decision making systems. “Without information it is impossible to monitor the resource, hence we are quite excited to be part of the project which we believe will go a long way in initiating a full-scale system to monitor the groundwater within the Kingdom of Eswatini,” concluded Mr. Sauramba. He congratulated the Government of Eswatini and WaterAid for the successful completion of the project.
Anna Cestari, Senior Water Resources Specialist from the World Bank Group highlighted that groundwater has always played a very important role, particularly for drinking water supply. She further said the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, which the Eswatini project is a part of was born from a roundtable discussion between World bank, SADC Secretariat , Member States and other key stakeholders in recognition of the new challenges faced by the region, driven by climate change, population growth and urbanization. She underscored the necessity to think about the integrated, sustainable groundwater management for the region in order to mitigate the impact of climate change. This project is aligned to the vision (sustainable groundwater Management) for the SADC region.
Through the project, now the Kingdom of Eswatini is able to monitor and manage the water resources effectively and effective monitoring system means accurate information for better planning. Approximately 67 109 people are benefitting directly and indirectly from the project.
Congratulations to Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and Cooperation for International Waters in Africa (CIWA) for financially supporting the Sustainable Groundwater Management project in SADC Member States through the World Bank. Also congratulations to all other partners – SADC-GMI, Government of Eswatini and WaterAid for a successful collaboration. Through this collaboration, lives and livelihoods of communities have been positively impacted.