Eastern Cape communities beg for help in water crisis

There are increasingly desperate calls for help in the Karoo as the region around Graaff-Reinet continues to suffer a devastating drought. People are eating, cats, dogs and tortoises and are crying with hunger. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman from Gift of the Givers spoke to eNCA.

KLIPPLAAT - The drought-stricken Eastern Cape is struggling and the small town of Klipplaat, about 120 kilometres from Graaf-Reinet, is feeling neglected.

Farmers are calling on Gift of the Givers for help as livestock are dying while many people are jobless.

READ: Gift of the Givers withdraws from Makhanda

Communities in the Eastern Cape haven't seen a drop of rain since March.

Ria van Zyl, a Klipplaat farmer, said it's very dry and they are struggling with animals.

READ: Water and Sanitation dept lays charges against former board CEO's

"We have food problems in our farms at the moment. There's nothing and the ground its very dry. We struggling and this is the driest time we are in now. There are times where we don't even have money for food."

Phumla Siyani, a nurse, said, "the poverty here people even eat out of the bin. People sleep without food. Now I know that human nature is very resilient because I did not understand how do people live here."

Farmers are calling on Gift of the Givers for help as livestock are dying while many people are jobless. Courtesy of #DStv403

The Gift of the Givers' Imtiaz Sooliman has called on the government to assist in the entire province and related some of the feedback, the organisation received.

Sooliman said, "it doesn't matter which area it is, there is a balance between municipalities and the Department of Water and Sanitation. We have been in contact with <Water and Sanitation> Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, she's keen to support the different areas. We've spoken to her on many occasions and she's said "you know for a fact, what has happened in the Department that I've taken over. There's been a crisis in the water section, billions of rands have got lost, have been stolen, money that has been earmarked for boreholes has been used by municipalities to pay for electricity and other accounts and lots of money has disappeared. We need to sort the problem out but we need stringent measures where they stop everything..." there are internal systems they need to sort out."

Sooliman said he understands the issues the government is facing are extensive but said faster action needed to be taken.

He said, "I'm going to say it quite bluntly, three words government don't understand: urgency, emergency, and disaster. Those are three words they don't understand because if you declare that, it means you do something this afternoon, the latest tomorrow morning, the worst 48 hours, not six or seven months later. Graaf-Reniet <and> Klipplaat is only one example, people are crying <in> the entire Eastern Cape."

Sooliman said the organisation receives an overwhelming number of calls for assistance from communities, indicating there is a great need.


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