Operation Hydrate takes water to dry areas


In a massive, fast-moving initiative, Operation Hydrate has raised R55-million, enabling it to take almost 28 million litres of water to some of the most parched areas of the country. Corporates, civil society and the government have all joined forces in the three-week old drive.

Operation-Hydrate Operation Hydrate launched a water drive that looks to distribute more than 45-million litres of water to drought stricken communities in the next five months. Here, a learner from Houghton Muslim Academy is doing his part in donating water to dry areas. (Images: Sandile Khumalo)

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Shamin Chibba

South Africa had a reason to celebrate when Operation Hydrate announced it had received more than R55-million worth of water from various corporate and government sponsors.

Representatives from the media, business and the government were at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Friday, 29 January for the launch of the Operation Hydrate Water Drive, which aims to donate R95-million worth of water to drought stricken parts of the country.

The R55-million received so far translates to more than 27.8 million litres of water.

Initiative surpasses its target

Operation Hydrate has already garnered huge support despite it being just three weeks old. The initiative started on 4 January as a response to the drought that has hit the entire country. It has already donated water to communities in North West and Free State provinces.

The initial aim was to collect R67-million by Nelson Mandela International Day, which is on 18 July. But when Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane came on board, the target was raised. She announced that the National Lottery Board would donate R50-million to the cause. On the spot, the target had been redrawn to R95-million by 18 July.

Operation-Hydrate-muslim-academy Learners from Houghton Muslim Academy got involved in the Operation Hydrate water drive that saw as much as 27-million litres of water donated on the day.

Mokonyane said the drive was not a competition about who could donate the most water, and emphasised the importance of working together to help those who were thirsty.

Mohammed Modan, an executive member of Operation Hydrate, said that though there had been some rain in certain parts of the country, the water was not necessarily potable, or of drinking quality. “The systems have been dry so when it rains there’s a lot of muck in the water.”

Operation-Hydrate-minister Water and sanitation minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, surprised the crowd when she announced that the Lottery Board is donating R50-million to the cause, smashing Operation Hydrate’s initial target of R67-million.

Every cent received would go towards donating water and not to the organisation’s administration costs. These costs, he said, were covered by the volunteers’ and executive members’ own pockets.

The chairperson of Operation Hydrate, Fayaaz Moosa, said the initiative was reassessing the hotspots in the country, adding that the water would probably need to be distributed wider.

Ubuntu in action

According to Operation Hydrate’s Yusuf Abramjee, the donations to Operation Hydrate were “ubuntu in action”. “Real people are the ones donating,” he said. “We as civil society will continue to provide this basic human right.”

Operation-Hydrate-yusuf Activist and social cohesion advocate, Yusuf Abramjee, says that the water drive is Ubuntu in action.

The chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, said South Africa could not rely on the government alone. If were to help each other, civil society had to stand up and take charge.

Leslie Sedibe, the chief executive of Proudly South African, said South Africans could not allow people to live without water. “Many of our people today are broken-hearted. Because we live in Sandton and Houghton, we take these things for granted. Just to give somebody a glass of water… could be the greatest testimony you’ll ever give them.”

Contact Yaseen Theba on 082 494 2824 to find out how you can contribute to Operation Hydrate’s water drive. For more information follow the initative on Twitter or on its Facebook page.