19 January 2016 | Salaamedia
Fiona Sephton, the acting municipal manager in the Eastern Cape’s Joe Gqabi district has learnt more than she ever bargained for over the last four months. The drought that has gripped much of South Africa has been particularly harsh in towns like Aliwal North, Lady grey, Sterkspruit and all the surrounding villages.
“We have had to give staff new roles learn how to deal with this draught situation. It has also been amazing to see how South Africa has responded to the crisis,” she told Salaamedia.
Following Salaamedia’s first video report from the banks of the dry Orange River on Monday 4 January 2016, an emergency relief campaign was set in motion to try and assist those in desperate need of water.
Touching various organisations and individuals, including Bhaitun Khair (Marlborough), Bariqal Amal (Polokwane), Purple Bandage (Roshnee) and the Vaal Muslim Women’s Forum, Salaamedia achieved its objective of reporting on the news while simultaneously initiating action towards assisting those in difficulty.
The NGO’s were supported by businesses such as Koogans Plastics, Benoni Auto Sprares, Statesman Stationery and Magaliesberg Water.
In access of 51 000 litres of water was distributed under the auspices of Salaamedia. They also facilitated the distribution of a further 33 000 litres of water paid for by the Crescent of Hope.
Azhar Vadi, the operations manager of Salaamedia said, “We would like to thank all who have helped us help others. Your names may be known or you may be anonymous, but know that you have touched peoples lives with your efforts. Thank you once again.”
The Salaamedia water project in terms of bottled water has since been closed. However the provision of water will remain central to the workings of group in the form of sustainable water delivery through the drilling of boreholes. To this end, Operation Moletjie has been launched in the Limpopo province and is also set to move into the North West province where water shortages are already being experienced.
If you are interested in drilling a borehole in the most needy areas of South Africa, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 81 706 4622 for more information.
Water deliveries bring much wanted relief to drought areas
11 January 2016 | Salaamedia
The drought spanning across much of South Africa is far from over, but some relief has been brought to those in the hardest hit regions of the country by hundreds of ordinary citizens, including teams from Salaamedia.
Under the broad banner of #OperationHydrate, communities mainly in the Gauteng province, have mobilised and donated hundreds of thousands of litres of bottle, tap and borehole water that has been trucked and delivered to the Eastern Cape and Free State province.
The road south from Gauteng to the affected areas bore testimony to the devastation the dry spell has wrought, as farm after farm portrayed very little more than brown sand, burnt grass and dry riverbeds.
Cattle and sheep could be seen trying to nibble on the few shoots of grass that may have managed to break through the hard ground. Thousands of animals have been lost already.
The real tragedy has however been felt in the far tucked away towns and villages where people have had their water supplies cut and their water deliveries suspended because rivers have run dry and dams have turned into mud pans.
A young man who called himself Vielethu, told Salaamedia during a water delivery operation in the uMlamli village in the Eastern Cape that the rivers were simply dry. Speaking in Afrikaans after receiving a water pack he said, “Ek sal hierdie (water) drink nou, en ek sal more drink tot die water is oop. Die riviere is droog (I’ll drink this water now and tomorrow until there is some. The rivers are dry.)”
Salaamedia has already distributed over 16 500 litres of water with additional deliveries expected this week. The total water dispensed by Operation Hydrate has exceeded 350 000 litres with this number predicted to go beyond 1 million in the coming days.
The operation coordinator, Yaseen Theba, said as South Africans they could not sit by and watch while others suffered. “Water is life and together we must make a difference in the lives of our fellow countrymen and women.”
South Africa needs your help as drought takes its toll
5 January 2016 | Salaamedia
Krisjan Kruger, the 34 year old farmer who committed suicide as a reported result of the current drought spanning much of South Africa, has added impetus to the growing concern about water shortages across many parts of the country. Just 180km away, the mighty Orange River became nothing more than an elongated mud serpent in the town of Aliwal North last week.
The river feeds into the town’s water purification system, gets pumped up to several reservoirs and then supplies drinking water to over 35 000 residents. For at least a week at the end of December 2015, the taps ran completely dry as the mud serpent cracked in the baking sun.
Temperatures have hovered in the mid to high 30s making water consumption by individuals, just for drinking purposes, extremely high. The social media messages rang out: “Can passing tourists kindly drop off bottled water. Aliwal North is completely dry.”
The Total filling station in the town, owned by Mr Jacques Venter, was turned into a temporary water storage and distribution point. When Salaamedia arrived late on Monday afternoon, Mr Venter was supposed to be at home. We found him alone at his office, still coordinating water matters that had turned into a crisis.
Early on Tuesday morning, deliveries of water sponsored to Salaamedia from its community of donors started reaching the hands and mouths of thirsty residents. One 5 litre bottle per person was the ration but it became difficult to deny little kids and disheveled pregnant mothers seeking a second. How far would 5 litres go any way?
A second distribution focused on people with physical challenges living in the Dukothole area. Working at the Vuyo James Disability Centre, Neo Matwa, welcomed the delivery of water. “People with disabilities should not be forgotten,” he said. “Many do not have family members who can help get water to them and it’s difficult for a person with a physical challenge to get water from a central point or a municipal truck.”
Fifty kilometers further east in the small town of Lady Grey, nestled amongst mountains that seemed to exhume heat, the local hospital and clinic were in dire straits. The two dams in the town had become mud pans and any water coming out of the tap system was not clean enough for patients to use with medication.
A van load of water was immediately dispatched.
While the recent rains upstream of Aliwal North and the opening of the Katse Dam has allowed the levels of water in the Orange River to rise, towns further away don’t seem to be out of the red as yet.
“We won’t be turning any water contributions away,” said Venter. “What happens if they close Katse and it doesn’t rain. And what about the other towns who also need help.”
Want to help?
Contribute to the Salaamedia water crisis fund.
Account No: 625 615 008 12
For more information call Salaamedia’s Azhar Vadi who was part of the distribution in Aliwal North on 072 197 8610 or 081 706 4622. Salaamedia hopes to take a truck load of water containers over the next week to the affected areas.