Published in September 2022

In an interview with Hardson Zondo, a farmer from southern Zimbabwe, we hear how a sand dam project has helped his local community to overcome shared challenges to their health and happiness by working together. Hardson also outlines how nearby access to clean water has personally improved his life and opened up opportunities for him. Here's what he had to say:

My name is Hardson Zondo and I am a 54-year-old father of five children, three boys and two girls. I live in the Nsimbi village, based in the Gwanda district in southern Zimbabwe. I was one of the community members who participated in the construction of the Nkumbu sand dam in the local area, which I am now seeing great benefits from.

Before the construction of the dam, I would have to travel for nine kilometres along a rocky road to fetch water from the local ward water points. I would often leave home at 7pm and return as late as 4am, because there used to be long queues where one would have to wait for three to four hours to collect water.

When fetching water, I would use a donkey-drawn cart to carry three 200-litre drums of water. These would last for around four days, as they were used both for domestic use and for watering my goats. Sometimes my children would miss school after queueing for water until it was very dark, as they would get home very late and tired. There was even one occasion when my grandchild was hit by a car on his way home from fetching water at night, meaning he had to undergo an operation on his leg.

During the dry season, the water points we relied on for clean water would get extremely busy and queueing times would increase to six or seven hours. When this happened, we had no choice but to drink dirty water from river scoop wells. Thankfully, following the construction of the Nkumbu sand dam, the situation has become much better. We had two water pumps installed at the Nkumbu sand dam to provide us with clean water. This meant that our livestock had water available within an 800-metre proximity of our homes.

Hardson Zondo, Zsimbi community member - Zimbabwe"Having water available near our homes has changed our daily routines for the better because we no longer have to queue for water. My children are now going to school instead of spending the whole day, or night, queuing at water points."

Hardson Zondo, member of the Nsimbi Village community, Zimbabwe.

Alongside the sand dam project, I am currently a member of the local Thuthuka Health Club, in which I am the only man among the membership. In a community that traditionally viewed hygiene issues as women’s responsibilities, I faced many challenges and criticisms but was not discouraged. Over time, more men started joining these clubs and participating in the improvement of the community’s’ hygiene through collaborative work projects, such as building toilets and digging rubbish pits.

The water provided by the sand dam enabled the health club to start a poultry-rearing project in 2021, where we currently have 300 chickens. Before the construction of the dam, carrying out a project like this was almost impossible due to the shortage of water needed for cleaning and for the chickens to drink. However, thanks to the availability of clean water from the sand dam pumps, we are now making a living through selling our chickens. I can now provide for my family using the money that I earn from this project. For example, I have recently managed to use this money to buy two goats, with each of these goats also recently having a child.

With the availability of clean water nearby and the knowledge that we have gained as a community, as well as our willingness to continue to learn, I have faith that there will be great development in the local area. I hope soon to open a vegetable garden to improve my family’s diet and gain income from selling the vegetables. I am very proud to have dedicated my time to this project because we now have clean water, and that has opened up many opportunities for me and my community.

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