How 42 villages got water on tap in water scarce Mokopane

Poloko Tau
2019-08-07 09:33
Post a comment 0

As South Africa celebrates a generation of freedom, Anglo American acknowledges its deep roots in the country and looks ahead to its contribution in the next 25 years and beyond. Over the next five weeks experience 25 Reasons to Believe with City Press as we explore the economy, job creation, enterprise development, health, land reform, sustainability, education, technology and – most important of all – the communities

A project undertaken by Anglo American Platinum outside Mokopane benefits 42 villages that would often go weeks without the vital resource, writes Poloko Tau

A concrete reservoir perched atop a hill in Mothapodi has added something unique to the skyline of a cluster of villages that surround it. And, importantly, it’s brought great relief for those communities.

The reservoir was a response by Anglo American Platinum to a request from the community for assistance to deal with an acute water shortage in the Greater Mapela Area, just outside Mokopane in Limpopo.

Sarah Maifala doesn’t have to travel far from home for water any more. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

Boreholes were drilled and infrastructure was built, and water is now pumped up to the reservoir before being directed into a network of pipes and on to different parts of the villages, including Ga-Lelaka, Ga-Chokwe and Ga-Matlou.

It supplies villages surrounding the company’s Mogalakwena mine. The water project is part of Anglo American’s Sustainable Mining Plan, which includes a commitment to reduce fresh water abstraction by 50% in water-scarce regions.

One of the residents who led the community’s quest for water, Tlou Kgaphola, who is from Ga-Chokwe village, says life before Anglo American’s intervention was tough.

The roll-out to all villages was completed earlier this month, and work continues to expand the network to ensure households will ultimately be no further than 200 metres from a tap.

“The water supplied by the municipality had very low pressure and water was not reaching most of the villages, leaving many of us dry. Those who could afford it paid large amounts for boreholes at their homes,” Kgaphola says.

“We decided to approach Anglo American Platinum, whose intervention was immediate. While working on the project, the company started paying for trucks to ferry water to different sections of the villages ... this went on for more than a year while the construction work was under way.”

Anglo American Platinum’s water project means people like Joseph Malesela Lelaka don’t have to buy water from people who have boreholes. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

However, Kgaphola says, the project was not without challenges and glitches.

“There were local businesspeople who were not happy that they were not awarded contracts in the project and they attempted to disrupt it. We came together and asked them to put the community first and went to the extent of guarding workers on site just to ensure that there were no disruptions,” he says.

The roll-out to all villages was completed earlier this month, and work continues to expand the network to ensure households will ultimately be no further than 200 metres from a tap.

An elderly community member, Sarah Maifala, stands next to a communal tap not far from her house while she waits for her container to fill up.

Anglo American Platinum worked together with the Mapela Task Team, a community stakeholder, to get the water project online. The project was endorsed by the Mogalakwena Local Municipality and became known as Hall Core Water Mapela.

“It takes a while to fill up because of the pressure, but it is better than nothing because, before we got this water, we had to buy it from neighbours who had boreholes. Things have changed for the better now, except for the low water pressure,” she says.

Kgaphola explains the issue with the pressure: “Our problem now is illegal connections, where people are connecting water to their properties, which affects pressure. The set pressure was for a certain number of taps, but now we have extra ones that were not planned for, which has affected the pressure.”

A headman in Ga-Lelaka village, Joseph Lelaka, remembers how life was before the Anglo American water project.

Community leader Tlou Kgaphola explains the water project. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

“We used to go three to four weeks without water and, when the mining company came to our rescue, we all stood up to defend the project – even against those who put business interests before the community’s. We are really appreciative of what Anglo American has done for us – making it easier for the members of the community, most of whom were spending money on water that should have been spent on food.”

Anglo American Platinum worked together with the Mapela Task Team, a community stakeholder, to get the water project online. The project was endorsed by the Mogalakwena Local Municipality and became known as Hall Core Water Mapela. This supported the Mapela Traditional Authority in developing a sustainable plan for the region.

Hall Core Water Mapela, in which the communities hold a 30% stake via a trust, was tasked with increasing the water supply capacity through drilling and then equipping and maintaining boreholes for 10 years. It is driving the implementation and maintenance of the project, while, Anglo American Platinum paid for the potable water supplied to the community.

After being successfully piloted at Schiming village, it now delivers 3.5 million litres a day to the communities, 42 villages that are home to 100 000 people, around Mogalakwena mine.

Kgaphola says they plan to extend the project.

“Rome was not built in one day, and we’re hopeful the mining company will continue to help us and ease our lives. The plan is to have increased water pressure and bulk supply capacity that will come with the installation of taps in every household in our villages.”

Meanwhile, the people in these communities can irrigate their crops and supply water for their cattle and goats, which means their income can be used to uplift their families instead of being spent on a resource that is a human right.

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining