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Solar powered water boreholes change lives

August 11, 2017

The nurse in charge of Kalilo Health Centre on the outskirts of Chingola Lesser Silungwe was at a loss for words when the clinic experienced a sudden inundation of people seeking health services, especially pregnant women.

Ordinarily, health workers are concerned when too many people visit clinics as this might suggest a higher disease burden, but this particular case has brought about plenty of happiness.

The increase in the numbers of people visiting the clinic comes after a solar-powered borehole was installed by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) at Kalilo Health Centre, one of four water systems put up by the company to bring clean water to over 8,000 villagers in four locations.

Mrs Silungwe says that women taken to the centre to give birth were previously expected to take with them a 20 litre container of water for use during maternity procedures. This was discouraging many mothers who instead opted to have their babies at home.

“Women were not coming to give birth here because of the requirement to bring with them some water. But suddenly we have seen numbers increase from seven women to an average of 27 in a month. All this is attributed to the availability of the fresh water from the borehole,” Mrs Silungwe said.

“The water borehole has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on our operations at the clinic.”

At Shimulala Primary School, the head teacher John Mukwala said attendance had improved at the school since the installation of another borehole there.

“We used to experience a lot of absences, especially from girls, before we had clean water at this school. Now the attendance has improved tremendously because our hygiene has also improved in the school,” he says.

“The school now has its own vegetable garden and practical science subjects related to agriculture will now be done without any problems. This borehole is an excellent facility that has improved our livelihoods,” Mr. Mukwala says.

A civic leader in Shimulala Richard Mutale says, “we are gratified to have water very close to our homes through Konkola Copper Mines’ intervention. We consider this company as our true partner because of the initiatives the company has undertaken in our area.”

Prior to the installation of the boreholes, residents were walking long distances to draw water from nearby streams, explains Mr. Mutale.

Zambia’s Minister of Works and Supply Matthew Nkhuwa, who represents the people of the area in the national parliament, says the boreholes project had come at the right time.

Mr Nkhuwa commented, “the boreholes have reshaped the lives of these people. Moreover it is not just ordinary water, but a commodity which meets World Health Organization (WHO) standards and which has been certified fit for drinking by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS).”

The water facilities are part of KCM’s Going Green initiative and support communities in the area and the government to attain UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).