Another Municipality in the Western Cape Runs out of Water

First it was Beaufort West that ran out of water two weeks ago. Gift of the Givers received frantic calls from the municipality, responded and is still responding.

Today Gift of the Givers received frantic calls again: "Laingsburg Municipality is currently running out of water. The main water source, Soutkloof fountain has dried up. Very low levels of water in the main reservoir and consumption is more that the inflow due to holiday makers enroute home" - from Laingsburg Municipality.

Both these requests came during the time that Gift of the Givers offices were closed for the December shutdown period. It's the only time in the year that our staff try to get a break but they had to be called back to respond to the crisis. The question has to be asked "What real preparations has the Western Cape Government made for the drought outside Cape Town City? Why do the municipalities keep calling Gift of the Givers directly for assistance when they are in crisis? Is there a lack of faith within their own hierarchy to get the job done effectively. De Doorns was in trouble in the first quarter of last year. They requested assistance from Gift of the Givers. We responded immediately with five boreholes producing 800 000 litres per day. Several other boreholes were established in various areas to assist with substantially reduced water levels.

Then came the cry from farmers. Their animals were dying in the hundreds from lack of fodder in Laingsburg, Mossel Bay, Albertina, De Vlaktes and many other areas. Gift of the Givers responded with huge quantities of fodder.

In January 2018 Gift of the Givers brought in 300 containers of bottled water by ship on standby to respond to the drought crisis in Cape Town. For all these vital interventions that has cost us in the tens of millions of rands, we have not received even one rand in funding from the Western Cape Government even though it was promised to us repeatedly in multiple meetings from as early as March 2018. Had the promise materialised we could have prevented the current water crisis in many areas, saved thousands of animals and hundreds of jobs of farmworkers. But everytime Gift of the Givers intervened, whether it was to deal with the water shutdown in Karl Bremmer Hospital (which we responded to within 45 minutes), distributing water to schools where taps dried up, delivering fodder to starving animals, providing emergency assistance for the fires in Khayelitsha and elsewhere, and even supplying various fire stations with water for fire fighting, all we received was thanks from the Western Cape Government, a pat on the back, and repeated promises of funding. Ten months have passed, we are still waiting. Thanks to generous South Africans and select corporates, Gift of the Givers resolve to assist continues as our people come first.

So here we are once again - our staff will be on duty, during their break, tomorrow morning at 9am at our Tygerberg warehouse, loading water for the people of Laingsburg. We will probably get another thank you, a pat on the back, a renewed empty promise for funding till the next municipality calls us directly as they have no faith nor hope in their own hierachy.

Imtiaz Sooliman