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LOOK: A day before Nelson Mandela Bay’s day zero comes, efforts are made to get water

Published Jul 7, 2022

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Video by Sihle Mavuso

Gqeberha – A day before the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s day zero kicks in, some communities are already bracing themselves for the worst, stockpiling water as much as they can.

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Some of the communities rushed to temporary water-tanks set up to distribute water and collected it in order to be better prepared for the tough times ahead.

The Eastern Cape metropole is facing a water crisis which has been made worse by a persistent drought that has affected major dams like Kouga. The crisis has long been coming, and some believe the metro did not do enough to prepare.

It has now been forced to ration water in order to save the water system from total paralysis.

Video: Sihle Mavuso

With the crisis looming, areas located in high-lying regions are expected to be hit hard as most reservoirs will struggle and just let the water go to low-lying areas. Some of the places set to be severely hit are Acardia, Walmer township, and Beachview, among others.

However, provisions for water to be sourced from boreholes have been made.

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By noon on Thursday, the Gift of the Givers Foundation which stepped in when Makhanda (Grahamstown), also in the Eastern Cape, had a similar challenge, was busy setting up boreholes and water-tanks in strategic areas.

People queue for drinking water at an old age home in Kensington. The Eastern Cape metropolitan is facing a water crisis. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

One borehole IOL found being set up is at Livingstone provincial hospital and another at John Msiza Primary School located in Walmer township. Other boreholes and water-collection points have been set up in the densely populated township of KwaNobuhle.

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Corrine Conrad, from the Eastern Cape Gift of the Givers, said the borehole at the hospital was critical because it will provide water during the time of the crisis at the hospital, that receives patients from as far as Cradock.

Video: Sihle Mavuso

She said the John Masiza borehole would be even more helpful because it will also supply the nearby township.

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“At each borehole that the Gift of the Givers drill, whether it’s a school or clinic, we drill to get the school or the clinic off the grid, and sorted with water. But we also look at the surrounding communities and we connect pipes from our boreholes, outside to the community and that water is available 24/7 so that their collection does not interfere with the daily operations or the clinic. These townships and surrounding communities are large, we are looking at (serving) over 500 families in the larger townships,” she said.

Although they were unable to set up a borehole, the foundation installed two water-tanks at Van der Vyver Home for the Elderly in the suburb of Kensington. The place is home to 90 elderly and frail people, who live on meagre pensions.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality installed water taps at a water collection point close to the Gqeberha airport. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

One of the residents there, Priscilla Kapp, said the tanks will ease the pain as they are already struggling with water for basic needs, like doing their washing.

“With our Sassa pensions, we cannot afford to go buying drinking water, so we are really grateful to have drinking water… Well, it’s not that we can hardly afford water, we cannot afford it, because with our Sassa pensions we have to pay our rent, it’s 30 percent of our income, and we have to buy groceries, the clinic at the hospital does not give you all the medication that you need. You have to buy what you really need. So there is hardly anything left,” she told IOL.

The Eastern province child and youth centre which is home to 80 children and located in the suburb of Glendiningvale, and they only just received water. The maintenance manager there, Nolan Schroder, expressed their appreciation, saying their lives will not be easy.

“It’s quite essential for children s to have drinking water and… We do our best to keep them warm, because that is what they are supposed to have,” Schroder said.

Gift of the Givers dropping drinking water at a childrens’ home. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

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