Over 130 000 Vhembe households rely on boreholes -Mathabatha

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha has admitted to parliamentarians that providing water to the citizens of the province has been a challenge in the past five years.

Mathabatha addressed members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), who descended on the province on a fact-finding mission with a specific focus on bulk water and road infrastructure. This was in accordance with parliament’s Provincial Week.

The NCOP’s permanent delegates to the province learned that a staggering 132  009 households spread across 192 villages and two towns within the Vhembe District rely on borehole water.


Among the threats to a proper water supply are leakages in the bulk water pipeline, rampant vandalism, unpredictable loadshedding and deteriorating infrastructure.

Vhembe district municipality director for water services, Wiseman Maluleke, told the delegation there are 51 boreholes in operation. He said these boreholes are strategically connected to an 8.1km bulk water pipeline, facilitating the transportation of raw water from the boreholes to the Nwanedi water treatment works for purification.

“Clean water is then pumped from the treatment works to various reservoirs that are connected to reticulation systems in all the villages and the two towns.”

This dependency on boreholes, he said, underscores the critical role they play in meeting the water needs of residents, who otherwise would have no option but to share water with animals.

Mathabatha acknowledged the severity of the situation and recognised the potential consequences of prolonged water shortages. “Let me briefly acknowledge that water has been our greatest challenge in this province. This is despite the amount of reticulation done by our municipalities. The higher challenge is, therefore, the [various] sources of water.

“In the past five years, we have seen bigger dams in Vhembe and Sekhukhune, for example, to be accessible to the communities around them. With a growing population in our province, we have an even higher demand for water.”


It is not the first time that the pressing issue of water challenges in Limpopo had been was brought to the forefront, with a particular emphasis on the disproportionate impact experienced by impoverished households.

Among these challenges are the difficulties encountered in agriculture, limited opportunities for income generation and the escalating expenses associated with seeking water sources.

The adverse effects on agriculture have become increasingly apparent, posing significant hurdles for farmers and cultivators.

One of the major concerns is the significant time women and children spend fetching water. This not only hampers their ability to engage in other productive activities, but also perpetuates gender inequalities.

During his state of the province address in February, Mathabatha promised Limpopo residents that his administration had placed water provisioning at the top of its agenda.

He, however, also admitted this was the same promise he had made the previous year.

“Last year, we presented a detailed report about progress and challenges regarding water supply in Limpopo.

“Major projects for water resource development will be implemented by the department of water and sanitation, and these include the raising of the Tzaneen Dam wall, Olifants River Water Resources Development, Musina-Makhado SEZ bulk water supply and Nandoni Water Treatment Works,” he said.

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