Drought-ridden Makhanda declared a state of disaster

The borehole test by a Gift of the Givers drilling team strikes fresh water near Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown). (Gift of the Givers)
The borehole test by a Gift of the Givers drilling team strikes fresh water near Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown). (Gift of the Givers)

The Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, which includes drought-stricken Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), has been declared a local state of disaster.

The declaration was made in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 and it was published in the Government Gazette of February 25.

According to Imtiaz Sooliman of disaster relief organisation Gift of Givers, reduced dam levels on the west and damaged filters on the east led to a shortfall of 13 megalitres (1 million litres) of water per day. 

"For the first time during Gift of the Givers' intervention, have we seen people run down the mountain to our trucks in panic and desperation," Sooliman said.

He said in spite of the mounting challenges in the face of no rain and limited functional water treatment plants, Gift of the Givers was optimistic that it would achieve a substantial measure of success in assisting Makhanda.

READ: Gift of the Givers given green light to drill boreholes in water-scarce Makhanda

In February, the Makana Local Municipality gave the green light to the organisation to start drilling boreholes as a medium-term solution to the Makhanda water crisis.

The town has been without water for the better part of February.

The NGO's trucks have also delivered water to residents after taps in some parts of the town had run dry.

On Monday, the NGO brought a second drilling rig, worth R4m, into the town, Sooliman said.

Sooliman added that six trucks sponsored by DHL and five Gift of the Givers trucks would deliver 360 pallets of water and some JoJo tanks from Cape Town on Monday while the drilling of boreholes continues.

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