Photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers entered Makhanda, formerly Grahamstown, earlier this month and has since delivered hundreds of thousands of litres of bottled water to areas all over the city.

But this is only a temporary solution. Decisive intervention is needed to find quality groundwater in the absence of rain, said the organisation’s founder, Imtiaz Sooliman.

Since Gift of the Givers’ intervention on February 12, team members from the organisation have been stopped by members of the public asking for water.

“‘Please can I get some water, we have nothing to drink we couldn’t brush teeth we didn’t bath there is no water in the taps’. These are the sentiments of hundreds of residents,” Sooliman said.

“The resilience, hospitality, generosity and appreciation is remarkable. They go about their daily activities with enthusiasm. 

"You can’t help but feel a sense of pride that these are South Africans, enduring the challenge of a serious water deficit with commendable demeanour,” he said.

The Gift of the Givers “water man”, Dr Gideon Groenewald, with a gift for finding rocks with the purest water, helped map out a plan where an exploratory borehole was drilled.

The borehole struck 30 000 litres of water at the first attempt.

“The lifeblood of the economy is Rhodes University. If that shuts down, the city shuts down,” Sooliman said. 

"So an urgent meeting was held with vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela and his infrastructure specialist, Iain L’Ange where total co-operation was guaranteed.”

Drilling commenced on February 21 and the aquifer yielded 300 000 litres per day. A second borehole is planned.

“These two will be pumped into 250 000 litre reservoirs, (which) will flow into the existing water reticulation system. Surplus water will be housed in JoJo tanks at the periphery of the university, freely available to all citizens in keeping with Dr Mabizela’s sentiment that the people of Makhanda are the people of Rhodes University.

“A third borehole will be drilled in the university. This will feed into the middle and lower reservoirs of the Waainek Water Works on the west side of town, as there is only 1% water left in the feeder dam. The water from the university will augment the water in the west,” Sooliman said.

Thereafter drilling will take place along the line of the Johan Kleynhans Water Plant, pumping water directly into the reservoir to increase the volume available to the residents in that region. 

"Hospitals, schools and the informal settlements on the east side are all earmarked for similar interventions. Drilling is also earmarked along the Waainek Water Works, to be pumped directly into the reservoir.

“Settler’s Monument has just yielded water. This is our third active borehole. Several events are held at Settler’s throughout the year. In the next two days 4 000 people are expected at a choir festival. 

"In the first week of March, 30 000 people a day will visit the monument. Having its own secure water source 'saves' the event and the town from further water deprivation.

“Time is against us. Two dams have only 20 days of water left. Depending on funding availability, Gift of the Givers will bring in more drilling machines in the race to secure water availability,” Sooliman added.

Gift of the Givers can be reached on the toll-free number: 0800 786911 and via [email protected]

Cape Times