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May 9, 2011

Drinking water scarce in Lemonal Village

The dry season is causing a water shortage in the Belize River Valley where communities have been without drinking water for weeks. The problem is particularly acute in the village of Lemonal, where last week a number of students absented themselves from classrooms because there was no water to drink or even for personal hygiene. Villagers told News Five’s Andrea Polanco that this is the worst dry season in recent times.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Lemonal Village is home to over one hundred and eighty residents, but for these residents, the growing problem of access to water in their homes has left a bitter taste in their mouths. While this is an issue every year at the start of dry season, for Cyril Banner, who has lived here all his life it is the worst he has seen.

Cyril Banner, Resident

Cyril Banner

“Man dis dry dah fah last year and  the very first time ah si ah suh bad because we had some  place to get waat fi drink but now yuh cyaa get waat nuh way.”

Water is needed for every day life, but the vats are now dry and while the river water isn’t suitable for human consumption, some residents still rely on it.

Hart Anthony, Resident

“I travel pahn my bicycle like quarter mile nuh fi get my waata. No pump wi nuh got no pump up that side deh.”

Delcia Anthony

Delcia Anthony, Resident, Lemonal Village

“No wata eena di village, that’s all to it. No rain, no waat eena di village.”

Andrea Polanco

“How long now no wata?”

Delcia Anthony

“Hmm fi quite some while now.”

Andrea Polanco

So no waat fi drink, no waat fi cook with…?

Delcia Anthony

“No waat fi drink, no waat fi cook, wi have to use di riva waata.”

Andrea Polanco

“And ah undastand that nuh too good fi use, ih nuh to healthy?”

Delcia Anthony

“Well wi have to use that or the pump waata and the pump waata very dirty.”

Tony Anthony

Tony Anthony, Resident

“We have to boil the pump waata, boil the pump waata and si how much we could use that.”

Andrea Polanco

“Suh dat dah weh unu have to use fi wash, bathe, cook, drink every everything?”

Tony Anthony

“Right everything, the pump water that taste so bad wi gotta boil it and that cyaa soften beans.”

The village is located about seven miles out of Bermudian Landing, that means drinking water is not always available for sale even if villagers can afford it:

Cyril Banner, Resident

“Sometime I buy wah three drum sometime I only cud buy wah five gallon.”

Andrea Polanco

“Suh if dis waata truck nuh come round then nobody have potable drinking waata?”

Cyril Banner

“No, no, no, very serious.”

Delcia Anthony

“Three dollaz fu the gallon, the smallest gallon dah three dollaz yuh have to pay or the bucket.”

Andrea Polanco

“Suh fu now unu just have to depend pahn the trucks di come back yah di sell the waata?

Tony Anthony

“Fuh now and if you don’t have the money and sometimes the truck nuh reach here and the truck run outta wata at the other village and take  some couple days before ih come back here again.”

Tanya Joseph

While some residents are able to make do, this wasn’t the case with St Luke’s, school to thirty six students. Some stayed away last week because there was simply no water in the school’s vats:

Tanya Joseph, Principal, St Luke’s Lemonal

“Right now we’re having great difficulties umm we don’t even have drinking water at school. We don’t have water to flush toilets, we can’t even cook at school we don’t have any wata at all.  We had minimum classes I had to send back home the infant division because we don’t have any drinking water at school. Some of the children I ask them to bring wata at school but they say they don’t even have enough wata at home to bring to school. If the students want to use bathroom they have to run and go to the bush, they can’t use it we don’t have any wata to flush so they have to go the bush.”

But these students will be able to make it through this week after a concerned member of their community, and a former student of this primary school stopped by this morning to put water in one of their vats:

Ralph Moody

Ralph Moody, Concerned  Community Member

“First of all wi clean up the tank it was very filthy. It has umm empty containers, a lot of sand, dirt on the floor. We clean it up, we sterilize it and wi full it. Wi put in some chlorine and we ask the teacha not to use it for a couple minutes, maybe a fifteen twenty minutes and if they want me to continue fill it I will do that.”

Andrea Polanco

“Mister Moody I understand you’re doing this as a concerned resident, because you, personally you don’t have any children coming to this school?”

Ralph Moody

“No I don’t have any kids here at this school, I live in Belmopan Area, I only come in for a short period of time and go back out to where I live nuh. This is the school that I was educated and this is the area that I grew up.”

While the school has a short term plan installed by Moody, Chairman Rodney Banner said that the problem is an old one but he is working on supplying the entire village with proper drinking water:

Rodney Banner

Rodney Banner, Chairman, Lemonal Village

“This water will suffice for a few days by the time this water is finished we hope to get this pumping system in place which will be supplied by Ministry of Local Government.”

Andrea Polanco

“There’s a well in progress but they haven’t seen anything come into fruition so far?”

Rodney Banner

“Well you’re right and definitely we need to have a solution to the water problem so far. The pump, the well that is there and the pump that will be installed could suffice the village with good drinking water. Unfortunately they will have to come to the site to get that drinking water right now.”

While many of us take water for granted, those in Lemonal will tell you that it is scarce commodity.  For St Luke’s, this graffiti painted on one of their vats that reads “One does not know the worth of the water until the well is dry” is a daily reminder for them. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Drinking water scarce in Lemonal Village”

  1. I Have Awaken says:

    How come BWS does not do some philanthropic services and send nt truck loads of 5 gallon drinking water to these people? Its not like they can’t afford it, they have almost completely monopolized water distribution in Belize and have made a handsome profit from it ever since. It would be the least they can do.

    How can a subtropical country like Belize with all our natural resources, have something like this happening? We are starting to look more and more like the poor African countries and resemble Haiti. Lets stop depend on GOB and help ourselves, we have the means all we need is the will and love for each other.

  2. MADDYVANDIJKDEREALISTO says:

    This problem is quickly solvable, no need to lament over this situation for so long. The river is dry; there are no pumps available at the moment. The Gob should send trucks of water per week to the village, while they make water pumps available for other water resources in the area.

    In a situation such as this one, people are always looking to make money, sadly people have become so cold hearted in Belize that they would rather let you die before they give you a glass of drinking water.

  3. fromafar says:

    BARROW!!!! Ur people are thirsty good Sir. It amazes me that your sorry @!$# has not done anything about this yet… isnt that what govenment is all about?, why do these people pay taxes if the government does not understand what thier job actually is? Government serves the people they govern, not the other way around.

    Oh what’s the point, nobody cares anyway…

  4. Justice says:

    Since when do we have to buy water? Shouldn’t water be free? Man, this is just another form of making money. This is the future what we can call blue gold!!!!! If ppl are smart Belize should voice thief concern and let those greedy corporation know that they can’t charge something that was free in the first pLace.!!! Hmmmm!!!! Let me predict the future are they soon gonna start charging us for oxygen? Wait I think they do at the hospital! Lol.

  5. BZNinCALI says:

    For years Belizeans drank rain water. If you lived in the country, you either had a well or used river water for everything including drinking. Then they told us we needed to boil the water or risk disease. We did that. Then we were sold on the idea that we needed was bottled water, it was much better than free water & if you’re making $150 per week, 10% of that for drinking water was the least you could do.

    We have sent our BDF soldiers to Haiti to help, can we try a little bit of that charity at home & pretend we give a spit about our own & at least give them drinking water. When our children cannot go to school because there is no water available & we are promoting our amenities as a jewel in the rain forest , it makes no sense. Since it is too much to ask the people we now buy bottled rain water from to donate to the villages that are struggling, this is the point where the GOB must step in, if you cannot deliver water to a small village, what will happen when there is a national emergency?

    Thank you Mr. Moody. People, I understand that this is the dry season but if we need to go back to using our vats &boiling our drinking water after the next good rain, stop giving our money to these people who have consistently shown no regard for us. Only buy the tish you need.

  6. Jacques says:

    God speed to all people of lemonal. Dan Tillett and his family were so kind to me in the 80′s and the memorable cross country trips to New River Lagoon. I have some great photographs of him and his family. if any of them are still there i ncan send them some pictures.
    God Bless.

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