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In perched rural Matabeleland North, renewable energy is vital




Under partly cloudy skies, Lydia Mlilo, 56, fetches water from a communal tap in the sparsely populated village of Singeni.


Any clouds are unusual in winter in this semi-arid land with nothing but teak forests, and to Mlilo they are not a sign of rain.

The water in this Nkayi district village in Matebeleland North province, 168km northeast of Zimbabwe’s second-largest city of Bulawayo, is pumped from underground using solar energy and stored in huge tanks.

It is then carried by pipeline in the village, supplying water to villagers as well as a nearby school.


Mlilo uses this water for all her domestic needs.

The mother of six still recalls the predicament of not having clean and safe water in the 2000s and early 2010s.

“It used to rain [so] that I could get water in the wells at my household, but that changed almost two decades back,” Mlilo said.


“The water tables are now so low that we cannot even access water. We used to get water at about 12m, but now maybe at more than 50m.

“I had to fetch water from open wells on the shores of a nearby river.

“It was dirty but we had no choice, we had to drink it. We could, however, get stranded in summer when the river runs dry.”


German charity Welthungerhilfe installed solar stations in Mlilo’s village and the village of Ngabayide as part of its Matabeleland Enhanced Livelihoods Agriculture and Nutrition Adaptation (Melana) project, which is running in four districts in Matabeleland.

The project started in 2016 and ends in 2022, and is part of the wider Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) programme.

These water sources benefit more than 350 households, as well as the owners of more than 4 000 head of cattle, who use them for drinking water and to dip their livestock, according to ZRBF-Melana project head Kudzai Nyengerai.


Singeni village head Nathaniel Ncube (66), says there were outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid in the village in the early 2010s.

“Most of the households do not have toilets. Open defecation is common here,” Ncube said.

“With water being a menace in the village, we lost a number of our villagers from the outbreak of diseases.”


Mlilo is a smallholder who grows drought-resilient crops such as millet and sorghum.

She also rears cattle and has 10 that she dips at a community dip tank. They drink water there, too.

Villagers in Nkayi district are limited in terms of how they can earn a living because climate change has made agriculture unviable.


Some survive on remittances from the diaspora, as family members were forced to cross the border to neighbouring South Africa or Botswana to search for work during Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in the mid to late 2000s.

The roads are rugged and the villages difficult to access.

There is a lack of infrastructure such as electricity, internet, television and radio signals.


Rachel Dube (29), from Singeni village, says she did not believe it was possible for a community deep in the thick forests to have a tap.

“I thought tap water was only for people in the cities,” Dube said.

“ I did not know it was possible for us. This solar technology has done wonders.”


The mother of three says she can now practise the maximum levels of hygiene recommended by nurses when looking after her children.

Nyengerai said the solar stations ensure that villagers have a perennial source of water.

“The two communities in question here have since established nutrition gardens. Even the nearby schools have benefitted by establishing their own gardens, and issues like livestock poverty deaths and time poverty have been reduced.”


Sukokuhle Khabo, 30, from Indibe village in Gwanda, is among the 2 100 households that benefit from the solar-powered irrigation schemes in this district in Matabeleland South province.

“I am growing onions, tomatoes and carrots for family consumption as well as for sale in Gwanda town and Bulawayo. We have been using the flash irrigation method to water the garden but we have since changed to drip irrigation, which saves water,” she says.

The mother of three says she uses the proceeds from her garden to buy other essentials for her family and pay her children’s school fees.


Like Nkayi, the Gwanda district is semi-arid and poorly developed.

“Drip irrigation has less labour and is critical in conserving water,” says smallholder Musa Moyo (75) from Indibe.

“Drip irrigation uses less water on a large piece of land. We rotate our crops [and use] mulch to conserve the much-needed water.”


Melody Makumbe is the project coordinator for Resilience Enhanced through Agricultural Productivity, run by development agency Practical Action.

“We use green energy to pump water as [opposed] to dirty fuels,” Makumbe said.

“ We facilitate access to markets, increasing access to finance, rehabilitation and support with infrastructure for irrigation as well as capacity-building for management structures of the irrigation schemes.”


In Nkayi, residents have established asset management committees that oversee any operational or maintenance issues with the solar stations.

Nyengerai says villagers have set up a revolving fund to pay for any issues that arise with the equipment.

“Singeni village went on to have fundraising initiatives that fund the maintenance of the scheme, for instance, cattle sales.


“These two projects have been run by the community since 2018 without any problem,” she added.

Mlilo hopes the initiative will expand to support other schools nearby.“Some schools in this village do not have clean and safe water,” she said.

“We are not yet safe from outbreaks if some nearby places such as schools have no water.” – New Frame


This story was published with the support of the British Council as part of COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Police Hunt For A Nkayi Murder Fugitive





A Nkayi man is reportedly on the run after allegedly assaulting a fellow villager with an unknown object on the head on New Year’s Day. 

Police have identified the fugitive at Joinisa Tshuma from Dabe village who is being sought for a murder charge. 

“ZRP is appealing for information which may lead to the arrest of Joinisa Tshuma who is being sought in connection with a case of murder in which Mcebisi Moyo died on 07/01/24,” police appealed. 

“The suspect allegedly assaulted the victim on the head with an unknown object near a bush in Dabe Village, Nkayi on 01/01/24 before he fled the scene.”

According to police, the victim sustained some head injuries and he was admitted at Nkayi District Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.

Meanwhile, Police in Machipisa are also  investigating a case of murder which occurred on Wednesday, in which a yet to be identified male adult approximately aged 30 years who was wearing a yellow t-shirt, black trousers, black gum boots and a black cap, was found lying dead with a stab wound on the back near Mapuranga Transport Service Garage in Harare. 

Police are also appealing to the public with information surrounding the incident. 

“Anyone with information to report at any nearest Police Station.” 

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Full ZRP Statement on Armed Robberies Raiding Elite Schools 




As the schools open, parents and guardians are in the process of paying school fees, levies and other related school costs, for their children.

School authorities are therefore urged to deposit all monies at financial institutions to curb armed robbery cases.

The issue of collecting cash by school authorities at schools should be reconsidered given the recent armed robbery cases.

The Police has recorded armed robbery cases in Bulawayo and Chinhoyi in which schools are being targeted.

In one of the cases, unknown suspects pounced at George Silundika High School at corner George Silundika Street and Third Avenue, Bulawayo on 06th January 2024, where they stole US$17 280.00 cash which was in a cash box.

In another case which occurred at Lomagundi College, Chinhoyi on 09th January 2024, 12 unknown suspects attacked security guards before stealing an undisclosed amount of cash, a Mazda Tribute motor vehicle, cellphones and laptops, among other valuables.

School authorities are urged to step up security measures at schools and employ guards from reputable security service providers who constantly monitor and review deployments.

Above all, school authorities should install CCTV at points of entry and administration offices.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned that some of these robbery cases are resulting from leakage of information.

Members of the public are warned that those who provide inside information to robbery syndicates will be arrested.

Police crack teams are firm on the ground and will pounce on armed robbery syndicates for the law to take its course in earnest.

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ARTUZ condemns government for opening of school amid Cholera outbreak





The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned the government’s decision to reopen schools due to the cholera outbreak wreaking havoc in most parts of the country, labeling the move reckless and disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers. 

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care last week showed since the outbreak of cholera, Zimbabwe has recorded 15 137 suspected cholera cases, 1 759 confirmed cases, 14 578 recoveries, 67 confirmed deaths and 266 suspected deaths.

“We vehemently condemn the government’s reckless decision to open schools amidst the widespread cholera outbreak, completely disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers,” reads the statement.

“We demand that the government immediately mobilize substantial resources to ensure the safe reopening of schools because our children deserve nothing less than a secure and conducive learning environment. 

“It is the duty of the government to provide sanitary solutions and ensure the safety and well-being of our children.

The union also called on the government to consider an upward increment of teachers’ salaries, criticizing the government’s lack of engagement with educators, particularly regarding their ongoing demand for a US$1 260 salary.

“Also, it is utterly disappointing to witness such a hasty move without even bothering to engage with the educators who have been tirelessly advocating for a just salary of US$1260.

“The safety and welfare of our students and teachers should be the utmost priority, but it seems that the government is callously neglecting this responsibility.

“It is high time for the government to prioritize the well-being of our education system and take meaningful action to address the urgent needs of our dedicated teachers. ” 

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