Remarks by Ambassador Lisa Peterson – Commissioning of Borehole Project at Prince Simon Primary School

Siyanivusela Bekunene (Greetings)

It’s wonderful to join you today in the commissioning of Prince Simon Primary School’s borehole project. Through the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund, the U.S. government assists community groups like yours in developing projects that will improve their living conditions. With roughly 74,000 Emalangeni, your community members can now access clean water, which will help improve overall health and sanitation for everyone.

The 2015-16 droughts not only exacerbated tenuous living conditions for humans, it also caused thousands of families to lose their precious cattle. Prince Simon Primary School was not spared from the harsh effects brought on by drought – in fact, the situation worsened.  The school has always relied on rainwater collection, facilitated by gutters installed on the rooftop. Unfortunately, this small amount proved grossly inadequate to meet pupils’ daily consumption.  In most cases, children were forced to walk long distances, hoping to find water from other sources.

But now, as a result of this community’s perseverance and teamwork, the 269 boys, girls, and teachers of Prince Simon Primary only have a short walk around back to retrieve fresh water. Thanks to this borehole installation, students will be able to concentrate on their school work, which, in turn, will improve their academic performance. Moreover, they will no longer be exposed to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. The school’s teachers and administrators deserve a special round of applause for putting their students first. Your efforts have reinforced the old saying that, lapho kunesifiso khona, nendlela ikhona (where there’s a will, there’s a way). I am proud that the U.S. Embassy could support this vital project for the Siphocosini community.

Part of the strength of the Special Self-Help program is community investment in projects.  Ideas or initiatives are generated within a community, and that community must be able to demonstrate their own contribution to the project.  A contribution often does not come in the form of money, but rather in materials or, very often, in time and labor.

Prince Simon Primary School has also contributed to this project by providing 2 Jojo tank stands, as well as the cement for the base. Additionally, they have provided material for the garden, including seedlings and equipment.  Studies and common sense have shown us over and over again that things are more valuable to us when we have invested in them ourselves.  We care about them more when we have contributed to them and helped create them.

We take better care of them.  That’s why we call it “self-help” and that’s what makes it such a great success. Ummango ngemmango utisita wona kute utfutfuke (Each and every community helps itself in order to develop).

Before I conclude, I want to say a few words about how projects like these are helping Swaziland to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal number 6 is dedicated to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This community is well positioned to achieve this goal because of all the stakeholders involved in its success. Due to the effects of climate change, water scarcity – as Swaziland and its neighbors have experienced firsthand – is likely to be a persistent and pervasive challenge for us all. I encourage you, as a community, to think about how the education system as a whole should respond to these shifting needs.

In Swaziland, there is a fast-growing industry for civil and agricultural engineers. These are the men and women charged with propelling Swaziland’s infrastructure and streamlining its processes to meet the demands of future generations. It is my sincere hope that we have some future engineers sitting in your classrooms today.

In the meantime, let’s continue working together to conserve this precious resource.  Simple behaviors, such as closing and repairing leaky taps and reducing water consumption, will go a long way in making sure that we all continue to have reliable access to this vital resource.  Emanti Ayimphilo. Asiwonge. (Water is our source. Let us conserve it).

Ngalamagama (with these words) Ngiyabonga Kakhulu (Thank you very much).