Posted on 01 October 2019
“From experience we have learned a valuable lesson about the importance of conserving the Lumecha-Makanini Water Source. It is no longer an option— it’s a must. We will live by this code, no human activities at the source. They say experience is the best teacher,’’says Mr Ally Salum, Lumecha Village Chairman, with a smile on his face.
Lumecha-Makanini Water Source is rehabilitated and open to the public. One can see the joy in the faces of community members as they approach the source to fetch water.
Not long ago, the water source located 16 km from Songea Town at Lumecha Village, Lusewa Ward in Namtumbo District Council was experiencing water scarcity despite having ever-flowing Water Source.
For generation people in Lumecha Villages as well as neighbor villages, relied on the source in addition to 4 wells at the village. But in recent year water downstream and village wells was not enough to cater for everyone’s needs. The village was on the brick of water scarcity.
Mrs Athanasian Ponela (58), a residence at Lumecha Village recalls how she spent her life fetching water from the source and how the lack of water was about to take toll on her community.
“I was born less than 2 km for this water source. Since 1969, I have been fetching water here so are my children and grandchildren to date. Over the years our population grew, need for water and land climaxed. Human activities began taking place at the source; people started cultivation and making brick closer to the source. And every day the number grew, land cleared, and the water source was beginning to lose its ecosystem.”, says Mrs Ponela
As the Village was working to keep the water sources clean and safe folds of events occurred.
“At first, we were concerned about contamination risks since the source was open, and maintenance was always a challenge. We just had a log over the source women will stand on it and fetch water it was not safe at all. We then, slowly we began to experience water scarcity downstream and in village wells. For women it was a harsh reality! ‘’she adds
She further explains how to reduce dwindling water was a wakeup call for the community.
“Because this water source had no prior history of drying, all people now fetched water from here. The pressure was high on the source from human activities here and demand for water. The truth was people get income from the activities they did at the sources but continued we would have paid a hefty price soon. We would have lost the water source. At that juncture, access to safe and clean water became one of the biggest challenges for this community. And that was our moment of realization, we knew the future of the water source was at stake.,” says Mrs Ponela
Through the WWF Forest Programme, the rehabilitation of the water source entailed cementing the water source, installation of two taps, planting 540 trees, making boundaries and training of leaders in water management. The taps at the source yields 40 liters of water per 20 seconds will benefit approximately 4,205 individuals in two villages.
Mr Renatus Shawa, Lusewa Ward Councilor explains how access to clean and safe water will improve the community wellbeing.
“Water is life, and it can change everything. During the dry seasons, women spend long hours fetching water at times till nightfall for two reasons. One, the ques at the wells were long as every household needs water. Secondly, because at the sources water will sour slowly because many people come down to get water even from other villages. Scarcity of water impacted children lives too including their education. Children had to spend much time fetching water or even to skip school altogether.” explained the Ward Leader “From now on things will change. Women can now fetch water comfortably with no worries of contaminating the water. They can also engage in socio-economic activities given they have spare time. The students will have time to focus on their studies knowing they can fetch water any time any season. The entire community overall wellbeing will improve. This investment is good for us and our environment,”.
Speaking on how the Villages plan to protect the water source as the most crucial aspect of securing access to clean and safe water, Mr. Renatus explained.
“Today, the water gushing out of the taps has given two villages and 4,205 individuals access to clean and safe water. But we have a new task at hand, and that is to protect the source for any threat especially from humans. We had already taken measures, before rehabilitation we jointly agreed, during the village council, to stop all human-related activities at the water source. We went a step ahead and planted 100 native trees. Slowly the ecosystem here is returning and water flow. With WWF support we planted 540 more and have marked the water source boundaries with signboards. WWF has also trained our leaders on water sources management. We are sure; the mentioned affirmative actions will secure the water source for generations to come. We thank WWF for supporting in rehabilitating the Lumecha-Makanini Water Source,” he says
WWF is working with the Government and communities in Ruvuma Landscape to achieve sustainable conservation goals in three key areas including; forest, freshwater and livelihood.