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Tap water destroys village life

Tap water destroys village life

Just taking note of a recent report where the 'honourable' President Ramaphosa opens a new tap in a small village, in an effort to swing voters. Here is a true story.


A while ago, a non-governmental organization - NGO - was asked to find out why a happy, and healthy village in the rural area of South Africa has developed into a cesspit of crime, anger, disease, and bickering. And poverty.

The team of 'social engineers' arrived for inspection, and found the village was in turmoil. There was rubbish strewn all over the communal areas, and sewage was seeping into all the low areas.  The stench of rotten food, and the flies and mosquitoes in their millions, and the rubbish was piled up at the entrance.  Used disposable nappies were placed on top of a large rock, since this was out of reach of the domestic animals like goats and dogs. There was a single water tap that was well worn, and was constantly running. Dirty cooking pots were piled up, and the dogs were chewing on some old bones nearby.

After the inspection, the team started their work, interviewing the village leaders.  The questions asked related to how there was so much strife in the lives of the village people, and when the trouble started. No-one could give any specifics, but one old woman mentioned the trouble started around election time. When pressured to elaborate, she said that she remember the time well since it when the local government installed the single tap in the village, and the President was there. The population were in jubilation as this provided much needed benefits.

The NGO’s went away with some feedback, but returned a few weeks later. This is what they discovered.

Political Taps for votes

Prior to the tap, the women folk would walk the 4 kms to the river, happily chirping all the way there, where they would gather on the banks, washing their clothes, cleaning the cooking and eating utensils, collect the water for the day, and then return home – 4 kms.  By the time they returned, it was gone past noon, they were a little tired, and so they rested. Then they started preparing the food, getting the washing dry, beds made, sweeping their gardens, and general house work. The men-folk would be out either working, or be minding the livestock.

Everything changed – when the tap arrived? Yes. Well, the women folk didn’t need to get to the river anymore. They never had that closeness of chit-chatting about all and sundry, and even some sharing of personal feelings, which tended to bind communities together. The personal contact was gone, and the village lost its glue.

Idle hands are the devil's workshop

With more time on their hands, trouble brewed. Infighting started and ended in violent behaviour. The men folk found this unacceptable, and tried to intervene.  However, with the women, they had a lot more spare energy, and this spilled over into inter-marital affairs, and ultimately brought them into the conflict. The water from the tap offered an easy and wasteful lifestyle, resulting in wastewater and sewage close to where the drinking water was, and sickness prevailed.

More children were conceived, many out of wedlock, resulting in a mini-population boom, and poverty reigned. The village had been altered and was forever in turmoil.

And so, how was this fixed? Well, it wasn’t. After all, you cannot just reverse the action and take the tap away. However, the president could neglect it, and when the water stops, this offers an ideal opportunity to replace it in the next election cycle.

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