ZIMBABWE|Clean Water Is Hard to Come By

By Wu Xiu-ling and Biggie Samson
Translated by Wu Hsiao-ting
Photos courtesy of Tino Chu

Children scooping water directly from mud puddles and ponds to drink is a common sight in Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa. However, the practice poses health risks. For instance, contaminated drinking water has been identified as the primary route of transmission behind a cholera outbreak that began in the country last year and has resulted in tens of thousands of reported cases. “In cholera hotspots, posters reminding people to wash their hands are everywhere,” said Tino Chu (朱金財), head of Tzu Chi Zimbabwe. “But how can people in communities suffering from severe water shortages wash their hands?” His comment reflects frustration with this harsh reality.

To help contain the outbreak, local Tzu Chi volunteers have worked on two fronts: distributing water purification tablets and organizing three teams to repair wells in cholera hotspots. Expert volunteers extract metal pipes from wells to determine whether they are damaged, replace faulty parts, and add water purification agents to ensure water safety. Between the onset of the outbreak last year and the end of February this year, the teams repaired over 620 wells, each capable of serving approximately 600 households. Over the past decade, Tzu Chi has also drilled a total of 236 new wells in the country to provide water for local communities facing water scarcity.

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