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Rescuers: Gift of the Givers brings R230m of water and aid to drought-stricken Eastern Cape

Rescuers: Gift of the Givers brings R230m of water and aid to drought-stricken Eastern Cape
Gift of the Givers’ Rashied Prince and his staff in action in Graaff-Reinet. (Photo: Estelle Ellis)

With large parts of the province battling to survive as a devastating drought continued for the seventh year, the Eastern Cape government delayed and talked about procurement and war rooms and regulations, but Gift of the Givers spent R230m in donor funds to save communities left without drinking water and farmers struggling to feed themselves, their workers and their animals.

Teams from the Gift of the Givers have spent months away from their families drilling boreholes and carting water to communities in need. One of the drivers, singled out by Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman in a speech delivered at Rhodes University, was Rashied Prins who went home only a handful of times in the two years he has been delivering water to Eastern Cape communities. Sooliman said he was a living example of what ubuntu means.

While the province was declared a disaster area only in October 2019, Gift of the Givers had already begun rolling out assistance in July 2017. Project leader Ali Sablay and his team have been working around the clock to get water, food and fodder to communities in crisis.

By November 2019, they had spent R230-million, according to Sooliman. They made 325 boreholes, brought 200 trucks of bottled water to drought-stricken areas, made hundreds of water tanker deliveries, delivered 600 trucks of fodder to farming communities and installed 180 water tanks. They also delivered thousands of food parcels for farm workers and farmers.

Sooliman said they drilled nine boreholes in Graaff-Reinet and five for Adelaide – all producing drinkable water. Another five boreholes were completed in Adelaide, of which two were handed to farmers with more than 200 labourers. They are also working on boreholes in Bedford and Middelburg. They have also completed 15 boreholes in Makhanda, of which 14 deliver drinkable water.

Sooliman said they had no intention of slowing down their humanitarian efforts in 2020.

Depending on the availability of funds, we want to commence our intervention in Butterworth and expand our work in Graaff-Reinet, Adelaide, Bedford, Makhanda and Middelburg,” he said. “After those towns, we will look at helping in Queenstown.” MC


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