Boston man’s farm a lush oasis in drought-hit KZN

2015-11-17 09:58
Virginia Farm owner Sihle Ndlovu crouches near one of his six full dams on his farm in the Boston area.

Virginia Farm owner Sihle Ndlovu crouches near one of his six full dams on his farm in the Boston area. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Pietermaritzburg - Lush emerald-green hills dotted with six full dams and plump cattle sound like a fairytale in the midst of the KwaZulu-Natal drought.

But, on the outskirts of the brown and arid Impendle district sits Sihle Ndlovu’s farm with six dams, supplied entirely by ground water running down from the mountains on his 360-hectare farm.

With water a scarce resource in KZN, Ndlovu has said he is willing to share the precious gift of water from his dams with suffering communities in and around Boston.

Ndlovu bought the farm Virginia in Boston in 2006. In 2009 he discovered the six dams that “never seemed to be empty” on his farm were being supplied by a constant flow of water from underground streams.

In 2009, he asked Umgeni Water to test the quality of the dam water supplied by the underground streams and they found it to be of drinking standard.

“I have never had a problem with the drought because of the underground streams that constantly keep my dams full,” said Ndlovu.

Looking at Ndlovu’s farm, one would never know KZN was in the grips of the province’s worst drought in 23 years.

With trickling streams running down the rolling green hills into each of the six dams, for over 200 healthy cattle and scores of plump goats and geese, Ndlovu said although the drought had not affected him, he had seen how communities had been suffering.

“People can survive without electricity but they cannot live without water. There is no alternative for it and this drought is a real problem.

“I see how Impendle and Sisonke have run out of water and I do not want to see people fighting over water.”

Ndlovu said while he wants to start selling bottled water from the spring water in his dam, he also wants to help the suffering communities.

He said he is hoping to partner with local government, or with the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, so he will be able to transfer some of the water from his dams to those who needed it.

“I just want to help somehow but I cannot do this alone,” he said.

Ndlovu said he can be contacted at sihle.ndlovu@mjadiyaoil.co.za should anyone be interested in partnering with him to help to supply water to the suffering communities.

He said his plans to help others by transferring water do not stop there. He has also started planning to build a tourism hub that will employ local communities.

His farm, which is home to a number of springbok and has horse-riding trails, is split by the main road that goes from Durban through to Lesotho and Sani Pass.

Ndlovu said he has begun planning to build a petrol station on his land next to the main road complete with a coffee shop, curio shop and a traditional arts market.

“Boston is a beautiful place and it is a shame that people do not stop here,” he said.

“I want to create a hub that will draw tourists to Boston and will help employ more locals in the surrounding communities.”

Ndlovu said plans are ongoing and he is excited with the potential for job opportunities and tourism that Boston holds.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  environment  |  drought

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