World Water Day: Edward Keeps Hwange’s Water Pumps Flowing

This World Water Day (March 22), we're focused on the challenges facing communities in Southern Africa - and how bicycles can help.

Southern Africa, which includes several of our program countries, is currently enduring one of the harshest droughts in decades. This crisis underscores the critical importance of accessible water – not just as a resource, but as a fundamental right for all.

In Hwange, Zimbabwe, climate change and global El Nino weather patterns exacerbate conditions in an already dry region. 

We met Edward, a water pump minder, several years ago when we featured him and several others in Hwange’s Mobilized Community. He shared that as a part of his job, he traveled as far as 20 km a day to ensure the pumps were working optimally. With his Buffalo Bicycle, he could more efficiently monitor his community’s water supply.

“My work is important because water is life,” says Edward.

Recently, we reached back out to Edward to hear how the current drought conditions had been affecting him and his community.

He said that people in the area rely on boreholes and water pumps for water, but a lack of rain and dwindling supply mean all must travel farther to access it.

The drought has also impacted the community’s economic stability and income.

“During times of water scarcity, most households curtail horticultural activities for commercial purposes, resulting in lower income,” says Edward. People purchase food from the store, which is more expensive than traditional foods.

Bicycles have become an even more important commodity to support water-gathering for home use, as well as livestock and personal vegetable gardens.

“It has become a source of pride among friends to witness someone carrying water on a bicycle because not everyone can do so,” Edward says. “The adults normally carry 35 to 50 liters of water on their bicycles. Schoolchildren have established the practice of carrying two 5-liter water containers on the handles of their bicycles on their route home from school because schools have greater water access.”

At World Bicycle Relief, we’re committed to providing practical, sustainable solutions to grow access to water. Our bicycles are a lifeline, enabling access to distant water sources—and the eased ability to transport water home.

We’re driven by the belief that mobility is a cornerstone of empowerment. In these challenging times, bicycles are more than a means of transport; they are a vital tool for survival. Providing bicycles to those affected by the drought enables them to fetch water, access markets, and reach essential services – turning hours-long treks into manageable journeys.

Will you help communities like Hwange reach the water they need to survive? Together, we can overcome the barriers of distance and drought, one bicycle at a time.
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