Matobo Hills

Water For Widows

The Problem

67% of people living in rural Zimbabwe, amounting to 10 million people, do not have access to safe drinking water due to severe drought, poor rains, or floods (CARE, 2020), while only about 35% of Zimbabwe’s population has access to improved sanitation (UNICEF, 2020). As a result, 72% of Schoolgirls in rural areas do not use commercial sanitary wear, resorting to unhygienic means; 62% miss school every month while menstruating (The Standard, 2021).

Communities in Matobo Hills have no safe drinking water. Women and girls bear the responsibility of collecting water, walking on average of about 3.7 miles per day (USAID, 2020). In Matobo Hills, women and girls walk up to 18 miles a day (10 hours a day) collecting water. This leaves them with no time obtain skills to pursue careers and no time to go to school. to advance their lives. This means there’s lack of economic growth and development.

Farming activities in the region are also being threatened, leading to food insecurity, as this problem inhibits subsistence farming, irrigation and household gardening which are vital to achieving healthy lives.


People and animals drink from this muddy pond in Silozwana, Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe.

A mother collects mud water from a hole, the only source in a community in Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe

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Women and girls spend all day walking long distances to fetch clean water, Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe

Solution and Approach

To solve this problem, we are installing water systems with “intentional placement within the communities” to benefit women and girls so they don’t spend hours collecting water. In fact, with our solution, they spend approximately zero (0) hours collecting water. This gives them a lot of time to advance their life and career, saving them unhygienic living conditions.

Managed boreholes installed by JB Dondolo in Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe

Solution-Approach (1)

We are using a scientific approach to install water systems in Matobo Hills. Our value partner NUST has collected samples and tested for quality in the lab. We engaged a geologist to study and collect geological data. Then sent a surveyor to examine and detect reservoirs. This provided us the information on whether to dig or install above-ground water systems. Thus, prevented us from guessing the presence and quality of water as well as prevented assumptions of community preferences.

Science and Technology institution (NUST)

One of our Partners, Science and Technology institution (NUST) located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

NUST Technician testing sand

NUST Technician testing sand samples collected in the lab

NUST Technician

NUST Technician at a project site, collecting and water samples for testing in the lab


Through Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship, we won a $5,000 grant. This will be used for solarization of 1-2 boreholes.

Two of the six planned boreholes have been installed. This effort has benefited 16,000+ people and reduced the amount of time spent collecting water from 10 hours a day to less than 30 minutes a day. This again gives women and girls time to advance their lives through skills acquisition and education. We are in the process of installing the outstanding four solar-powered boreholes.

drilling-equipment (1)

Drilled managed boreholes for solarization. This enables irrigation, farming, gardening, composting.

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The community celebrates when one of the borehole drillings produces water, Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe

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Water for Women – Grant by Tony Elumelu Foundation

Up Next

  • Install 4 solar-powered boreholes in Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe to ensure safe drinking water and sustainable irrigation, farming, cattle silage, gardening, and composting. This would benefit 90,000+people directly and indirectly.
  • Digitize water systems for easier monitoring and data analysis.
  • Short term: Periodically test for water quality.
  • Long-term: Develop a sensing system that regularly checks the quality of the water over time and also collects data in real-time. This will enable us to be proactive and respond faster to any problems before they occur.

Matobo Hills Project Tour

A Tour of Matobo Hills Project after Covid-19 Surge

Matobo Hills Water Project Solar Power Install Tour

Photos of Matobo Hills Community Tour