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South Africa: One Tap for 1,000 Families. and It’s Been Dry for Seven Years


Eastern Cape villagers say they have given up asking their councillors for help

  • Taps ran dry seven years ago in Ngqamakhwe Ngcisininde village, Eastern Cape.
  • About 1,000 households have no piped water.
  • The Amathole District Municipality says a water project to address this is at a planning stage.

The only tap ran dry seven years ago in Ngcisininde Komkhulu village in Ngqamakhwe, about 35 kilometres from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

According to residents the last time they had piped water was in 2016, when a construction company building a school in the area installed a standpipe connected to a windmill.

“I’m not lying when I say that we last had clean [tap] water in 2016, after we begged the contractor to install a standpipe for us. Unfortunately, the water only came out for few months and the tap went dry,” says villager Luyanda Gciyane.

He said the standpipe was shared by 1,000 households, who are now struggling to get water.

There is an old tank from the 1980s that used to supply water but the villagers say it broke in 2005. For years they asked the Amathole District Municipality to please repair the tank, but nothing was done.

GroundUp met Kwanele Mahlukwane fetching water with a bucket from a natural spring about a kilometre from his home in upper Ngcisininde.

“The issue of lack of water in this village is long, and we no longer bother the ward councillors about it,” he said.