Thirty seven year-old Elizabeth John of Nyangoto village in Tarime District has a reason to smile. At long last, the much awaited clean and safe water hascome to her village, thanks to North Mara Gold mine for initiating a giant water project to solve a long-standing problem.
As women draw water from the newly installed taps, one notes a great deal of happiness on their faces, and all of them admit it results from the water service they are now enjoying.
“We are grateful to the people who made it happen. We used to buywater from vendors and when we had no money, we would walk a long distance of to fetch it from shallow wells. Now we can get it in five minutes only,’’ says Elizabeth.
Francisca Philipo, another resident of Nyangoto says the water project is a great relief to the women because they would no longer walk long distancesfetching water and would save time to carry out other domestic chores.
“Every morning and evening we would go out in groups to fetch water. This consumed a lot of our time and water was never enough at home. Now there is plenty of it,’’says Francisca.
So far, several centres for supplying water are already functioning in all seven hamlets ofNyangotovillage, whose population is estimated at 15,000 people.
The hamlets are Minarani, Nyangoto, Nyamekoma, Mnadani, MajengoMapya, Stooni andLamboni.
The residents are now enjoying clean water supply, and itsclear color fulfils the adage “water is life.’’
“The water is clean. May God bless all who made it possible for us to get this service, ‘’ says Neema Robert, another resident of Nyangoto village.
The service is currently offered for free while the Management Board prepares a plan for the villagers to contribute some fees.
Villagers say the amount of time spent on hunting for water will now be used in other development issues, including income generating activities.
“ We, the villagers in Nyamongo are very happy. I can go to fetch water and do other things thereafter. This was not possible in the past. A lot of time was wasted in searching for water,’’ says Diana Luka, a youth running M-PESA, a mobile money service.
The villagers appealed to the authorities to make sure the project is sustainable for the present and future generations.
“We ask the authorities to supervise the project well. The beneficiaries too, should protect it. It is their lifeline,’’ says Joyce.
The Chairman of Minarani hamlet, Elisha Wilson Wambura, said the project will be of benefit to more than 1,200 residents of the area.
“ This is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project and serves as an alternative water source to those which have been taken by the gold mine,” says Elisha, while confirming that it is the largest project implemented by the mine at Nyamongo.
According to the Chairman of Nyamongo village MwalimuMwitaMsegi, all residents are currently enjoying clean water supply, thanks to Barrick Gold CSR, for faciliting the project which is worth about 1bn/-.
“ The entire village now gets clean water and there are water drawing centres in every hamlet. It is the biggest project at Nyamongo,’’ says the village chairman.
“ Our main goal is to make sure every resident has tap water at their place. A metre will be installed so they can pay depending on individual use. We aim to fulfill the national agenda of lifting the bucket off the woman’s head, so she doesn’t have to go about in search of water,’’ says Msegi.
“ In the first phase, we hope to supply water to more than 30,000 residents in villages targeted by the project. Barrick Gold has already built a water treatment plant,” says Msegi and notes that a board has already been established to oversee the project , and will be implementing its responsibilities under the Rural Water and Sanitation Agency ( RUWASA).
On the viability of the water project, Engineer Mohamed Mtopa from RUWASA in Tarime District commented that it’s clean and safe for human consumption.
“ The water is clean and safe because it is drawn from Mara River, is then treated and distributed to the mine’s quarters. Some of it is conveyed from North Mara and pumped into our reservoir which has capacity to hold 300,000 litres at a go,’’ says Mtopa.
Mtopa is optimistic the project will bring relief to the people of Matongo by 85 per cent. He says people are now free to connect water in their homes, something which was not possible because in the past they had to buy it from vendors.
“Our appeal goes to every beneficiary.It should be their obligation to protect the water infrastructure to ensure it is not vandalized. We should be ready to pay the bills as a matter of necessity so the project is sustainable. When North Mara tenure expires, we should still have this project with us,” says Mtopa.
North Mara is one of the biggest goldmines run by Barrick Gold Company, in partnership with the government of Tanzania, through its Twiga Mineral Corporation.
Apart from paying various taxes to the government and providing employment opportunities to locals, the mine sets aside billions of shillings every year for social development projects through its CSR.
The projects given priority in the CSR include education, health, food security, water and income generation.
(By Jacob Mugni & Christopher Gamaina)