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Operation Hydrate brings water to drought-hit South Africans

Benoni Muslim School collected 25,000 litres of water for distribution to needy communities in South Africa (Photo: Yusuf Abramjee/Operation Hydrate)
Benoni Muslim School collected 25,000 litres of water for distribution to needy communities in South Africa (Photo: Yusuf Abramjee/Operation Hydrate)
Written by Malachy Browne

A convoy of trucks measuring nearly four miles long set off from Johannesburg Friday morning to deliver donated water to communities hit by South Africa’s worst drought in a century. Five ambulances, seven police cars and 41 trucks and tankers laden with 1.2 million liters of water departed the FNB Stadium bound for rural communities in three provinces ravaged by drought. It’s part of a massive volunteer campaign that’s become known as #OperationHydrate.

Five of South Africa’s nine provinces have been declared disaster areas as the drought threatens food security. A farming group has called on the government to declare a national disaster so that relief funds can be released.

Since it began one month ago, #OperationHydrate has delivered 4.2 million liters and held a record-breaking campaign to raise some R61 million ($3.85m) in donations. Public donations surpassed the target of R10 million, while the South African national lottery donated R50 million ($3.15m).  Some 4.2 million liters have already been distributed to needy communities across the country.

Schools and businesses around South Africa contributed to the effort by collecting hundreds of thousands of litres for distribution. Benoni Muslim School collected 25,000 liters while asset management company Stanlib collected 100,000 liters, according to #OperationHydrate.

Nomvula Paula Mokonyane, Minister for Water Affairs and Sanitation, tweeted that the operation “brings much needed relief for the dry areas and is a perfect tool to unite [South Africa].”

Sight of the convoy elicited hundreds of messages of support by observers along the M1 motorway which was partly cleared to make way for the convoy.

About the author

Malachy Browne

Malachy was the founding Managing Editor and Europe Anchor of Reported.ly from 2015 until April 2016. Based in Ireland, he worked with the European team to report on international stories emerging through online communities and citizen networks. Malachy has reported on the Arab Spring, conflicts in Ivory Coast, Yemen, Syria and Ukraine, humanitarian crises from Somalia’s famine to Typhoon Haiyan, and social and civil rights movements. He has written about eyewitness media and citizen networks for Al Jazeera, Open Democracy and the European Journalism Centre.

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