Empty water tanks leave Makhanda schools in a crisis

2019-02-11 22:33
(Louw Mlungisi, Netwerk24)

(Louw Mlungisi, Netwerk24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It's a grey and misty Monday in Makhanda (Grahamstown) as clouds tease, bringing the promise of rain, but pupils in Makhanda's government schools are left high and dry, Grocott's Mail reports.

For some schools, this is their sixth day without water, and although schools are equipped with rainwater tanks, prolonged water shortages have led to empty tanks.

Grocott's Mail visited township schools, including Makana primary school, where 472 pupils were sent home early because there was no water.

Nomsa Zono, Makana's head of department said that the water crisis started last week Wednesday.

"It was too hot," she said. "Kids were looking for water and there was no water to drink."

By the end of the week, ablution facilities at the school were unusable due to clogged toilets and poor sanitation.

"The toilets are full as we speak. We can't use them," said Zono.

Lungiswa Mvula, member of the school management team (SMT), said that letters had been sent to parents to inform them of the conditions.

"We ask the parents that [pupils] must relieve themselves before they come to school," she said.

Sanitation is not the school's only concern. It is also worried about cooking. Without clean water, food cannot be served to the children.

"Unfortunately, because our students are coming from a poverty-stricken area, they need food at school," said Mvula. "We couldn't say that we weren't going to have school because they need that food."

Mvula told Grocott's Mail during the interview that pupils were waiting for lunch. After eating, they would be excused to go home for the day. The interview took place before midday.

Both Mvula and Zono expressed concern about the risk in sending pupils home, particularly because parents were at work and few children had someone at home to care for them. However, keeping pupils at the school with poor sanitary conditions was an equal risk.

Grocott's Mail reported on these same concerns in mid-January, when principal of NV Cewu primary school Anele Ndyolashe said that with "no one to receive them at home, [pupils] are vulnerable to abuse".

"It's beyond our scope of understanding," said Zono. "And we fully understand that when nature calls, nature calls."

Although municipal water trucks had been distributing water throughout the community since Saturday February 9, no communication was made with residents as to when and where the trucks would be stationed.

Residents took to waiting in queues for up to eight hours at the Fairview Spring, while others waited on the streets, hoping for a truck.

Zono said after phoning the municipality on Monday morning, she was told the truck would come to the school by 10:00. However, by 11:30, no truck had arrived.

By midday, Grocott's Mail reporters found a municipal truck at Nombulelo Secondary School - just a few blocks away. Makana said they had two municipal water trucks. Schools which did not have their tanks filled would have to wait until the following day.

Zono appealed to the community to sponsor tanks for flushing toilets. "We can devise other strategies for cooking," she said.

Another government school just down the road from Makana, faces the same issues, but has more than twice as many pupils. CM Vellem Primary School has more 1 000 pupils, but empty rainwater tanks. A teacher who asked to remain anonymous said they had been sending pupils home early since last week.

The school also struggled with sanitation, but could not deny their pupils the right to relieve themselves. The school's bathroom facilities were full of toilet paper and waste, but pupils continued to use them.

Should Makhanda's water crisis continue, more schools like Makana and CM Vellem will be forced to send pupils home as a result of poor sanitation, quickly turning the water shortage into an education crisis.

Community members are requested to assist in any way possible.

Read the full story on Grocott's Mail.

Read more on:    water  |  drought
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.