Weeks ago, Kasungu residents vented their anger and frustration at district council authorities for failing to halt the water crisis, which has persisted for decades. Speaking at Kasugu L.E.A primary school in Kasungu, where Jesuit Centre for Ecology and Development (JCDE) organised open day activities marking World Environment Day, Ireen Kaomba, wife of Senior Chief Kaomba said most families drink water from unsafe sources.
Her sentiments were shared by many who accused the district’s department of water of bias when deciding where to drill boreholes in villages. They also blasted central region water board over various degrees of inefficiency when handling new connections, including for the recently commissioned free water connections, which are part of the Tonse administration's campaign promises.
''Every district official, including members of parliament, are aware of the water crisis in Kasungu. Sadly, we have been neglected and everyone watches out for women waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning, bracing long distances to fetch water, which shouldn’t be the case. In the process, they face several challenges, including being raped, "narrated a concerned Kaomba."
Kaomba also echoed suggestions that control of funds for the rural borehole drilling scheme should revert to councils as was the case before, unlike entrusting the responsibility to members of parliament whom she accused of politicising such projects.
Another resident, Mercy Nyirongo, from Njalale village T/A Kaomba.disclosed that, apart from walking long distances to fetch water, others resort to drinking water from the Chitete river, which is currently infested with used diapers.
"Some of our friends have water taps within their compound but water doesn’t come out due to low pressure. Now, how will the board deliver water to the 500 new applicants under the free connection program," wondered Nyirongo.
Both the district's representative for the director of planning and development and the district's water officer admitted that the council is facing numerous challenges, but were quick to assure residents that government is working on solutions in the short and medium term.
"We have identified a place close to Dwangwa River where we will set up a new dam since the old one can’t meet the current demand following a population boom. I also want to address those that requested us to dredge Kasungu dam that at the moment, that is not in our plans.'' said Charles Mwenda, district water officer for Kasungu.
A representative of director of planning at Kasungu Town Council, Madalitso Uledi, emphasised the need for different stakeholders to continue working together to mitigate the impacts of the water shortages.
She said : "Water water is one of the priority areas in our district development plans and we are working with different stakeholders, including the water department and agriculture sector, so that we can deal with challenges emanating from poor agricultural practices and deforestation." She further explained that they have stepped up awareness campaigns and implementation of catchment management approaches such as soil and water conservation and rainwater harvesting technologies.
Globally, the day was celebrated under the theme ‘only one earth’. However, JCED decided to focus on the importance of water in climate resilience interventions.
Director of JCED Br Ngonidzashe Edward, said they decided to introduce Tasintha resilience project in the area of Traditional Authority Kaomba to assist the some of the communities with hand pumps currently being installed in several villages.
"Water is at the heart of our response to climate change and for a lot of our communities here in Kasungu, prolonged dry spells and erratic water supply are big issues." "What it means is that in terms of building community resilience, we need to look at how best to deal with water management, promote water harvesting and integrated management of our catchment areas," Explained Edward
He also called upon African leaders to place water at the centre of the climate negotiations to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The day was marked by various entertainment activities, including dances, poems, testimonials, and motivational talks.