Drought forces cattle to drink flowing sewer

Cuthbert Mashoko

RUTENGA-In a development that may be a consequence of climate change, open sewer ponds in Rutenga Growth Point have become a last resort for water-starved cattle in the nearby villages of Zvomupungu, Village 13, Village 5, and Village 1.

 Cattle from these villages can be seen making their way to the sewer ponds, located on the eastern side of Rutenga, to drink there as nearby streams and rivers have dried up.

The unfenced sewer ponds have become a common watering hole for the livestock.

Last Chikuni of Village 13 Zvinonyanya revealed that he drives his cattle to the sewer ponds, located five kilometers from his homestead, on a daily basis to access the sewer water.

“Every day, I drive my herd of cattle, just like any other villager, to the sewer ponds since there is no perennial source of water here,” Chikuni told The Midweek Week.

According to Dr. Thokozani Mswela, the former Mwenezi District Veterinary Officer, scientific tests conducted on the sewer water showed that it did not have any adverse effects on the cattle.

“The sewer water proved not to be harmful to cattle, possibly due to the detergents used in the reticulation process killing any pathogens. However, sewer water cannot continue to be an alternative to the water crisis in Mwenezi because it is not safe,” Dr. Mswela explained.

Since 2000, farmers in the villages surrounding Rutenga Growth Point have relied on the sewer water to sustain their cattle.

 Efforts by the Mwenezi Rural District Council (MRDC) to prevent villagers from using the sewer water have been futile.

“The MRDC fenced the ponds several times in order to stop cattle from drinking this waste, but the villagers break the fence to let their cattle drink the sewer water,” said Admire Matutu, MRDC chairperson.

Matutu hinted that a team of water surveyors dispatched by the government might provide a solution to this problem.

“As I speak, there is a team of water surveyors in Mwenezi District, looking at possible borehole sites. This might be the solution to this challenge,” Matutu added.

Mwenezi District falls under natural ecological region 4, where water scarcity poses a critical challenge for farmers.

Hence the drilling of solar-powered boreholes seems to be a necessity in this region to combat the devastating effects of climate change.

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