Quest for water in an Eastern Cape village

Photo of two boys carrying water
On most days Ongezile Mkwehla and Siya Wandisa have to fetch water for their village.

In March I visited a village in Pondoland in the Eastern Cape for two weeks as part of GroundUp’s investigation into the province’s dagga trade.

I photographed how the people living in the village deal with water.

Homes are scattered across hills. As the photo below shows, water is available in a river running at the foot of the hill. People have to walk up and down the hill to transport water.

View of Eastern Cape village

Each household has to get water from the river everyday, except when it rains. In the morning, women go down to the river to collect water. In the afternoon, children usually go. Clothes are washed directly in the river because people can’t waist the water that is carried up the hill to their homes.

The water is not boiled or purified. It is a brownish-orange colour. The people of the village complain that the water makes their children sick.

The river is lower than usual this year because there has been very little rain for the past few years.

These photos show two children, Ongezile Mkwehla and Siya Wandisa, fetching water.

  • Ongezile (green jacket) and Siya walk down the hill with empty buckets.
  • The two boys are good friends.
  • They will have to jump over rocks to get to a convenient point to fill their water bottles.
  • But they are very good at jumping between rocks, as Siya shows here.
  • Ongezile steps effortlessly between rocks.
  • The boys carry the water uphill. Notice the brownish-orange colour of the water.

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TOPICS:  Sanitation

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