From TZ Business News Correspondent Rusana Philander in Cape Town.
A combination of divine intervention and human effort is being applied in South Africa to fight a serious water shortage here. The South African organisation Operation Hydrate has started collecting water to distribute all over South Africa where millions are struggling for access. The nation is experiencing a severe drought.
The renowned Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently prayed for water which was then sold to Foshini Group at R15 000 when they bought it as blessed water at an auction.
The auction was part of a fundraising campaign to raise funds for the water distribution initiative. The Cape Town event was attended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah, as well as Mandla Mandela–the grandson of Nelson Mandela. Currently the water shortage which is caused by a drought has been described as the worst in 35 years.
Climatologists are attributing the drought to El Niño and climate change which is resulting in less rainfall in Southern Africa. According to the South African Weather Service, the country had a lot less rain over a period of 12 months last year.
Mpumalanga, the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo and the North West, have been declared drought disaster areas. But some parts of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape were also affected by the drought.
Yusuf Abramjee one of the founders of Operation Hydrate said that they were aiming to collect 8,5 million litres of water as well as R95 million for the project.
“People can donate as little as R5 to the cause. So far we have received water donations from Shoprite/Checkers, the Foschini Group and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT),” he said.
“I am here to honour my grandfather and I am sure that he would have embraced this project. Water is a basic right and organisations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Operation Hydrate has taken the lead to address the problem,” the Mandela grandson said.
Mandla Mandela who also made a donation of water, said that he wanted to thank Tutu and his whife for their unselfish contribution to the liberation of South Africa.
“It is because of you that we enjoy the freedom we have today. In the Eastern Cape where I come from, people do not have much access to water,” the Mandela grandson said. “In the long-term we need to look at solutions like boreholes.”
He added: “This drive should include building new dams; we are currently looking at getting water from the Lesotho Hydro Project. I also want to thank the Desmond Tutu en Leah Legacy Foundation for the project.”
Plantations have been badly damaged by the drought and crops such as maize could not be planted.
According to economists this could have an effect on South Africa when it comes to exporting maize. This is also a staple food in the country. In the drought affected areas many animals are dying due to lack of water.
Due to this South Africans are already feeling the pinch, with increased food prices. Food prices are also expected to increase further, as farmers have also asked the government to intervene to make loans available.