On February 25 the Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, which includes drought-stricken town of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), was declared a local disaster area. Reduced dam levels on the west and damaged equipment on the east have led to a shortfall of 13 megalitres (or 13-million litres) of water per day. The town was without water for the better part of February.

In an effort to make a difference and boost disaster efforts, Engen Petroleum connected with disaster-relief organisation Gift of the Givers to offer assistance, and donated 100 JoJo tanks to the area.

These will be used at borehole sites for filtration purposes as well as at other sites – such as schools, hospitals, clinics, old age homes and other distribution points – for the community to access safe, drinkable water.

Yusa Hassan, MD and CEO of Engen Petroleum, says: “Engen is committed to conducting business in a manner that is compatible with the social needs of the communities in which we operate.

When our community suffers a natural disaster like this one, we try and step up when we can. We channelled our donation of 100 JoJo tanks through Gift of the Givers to ensure that the tanks are used to the best possible effect during this time of natural disaster,” he adds.

The Makhanda Local Municipality has given the green light to Gift of the Givers to start drilling boreholes as a medium-term solution to the Makhanda water crisis. Gift of the Givers arranged for trucks to deliver water to residents after taps in some parts of the town had run dry. It also brought a second drilling rig into the town.

Imtiaz Sooliman of Gift of the Givers says that, in spite of the mounting challenges in the face of no rain and limited functional water treatment plants, the organisation is optimistic that it will achieve a substantial measure of success in assisting Makhanda, thanks to the numerous corporate companies and NGOs that have stepped in to assist.

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