03 FEBRUARY, 2016: In an unified effort to alleviate the plight of thousands of drought-stricken residents of Senekal, in the eastern part of the Free State, transport company Manline Freight – a division of Barloworld Transport – teamed up with non-profit organisation Awesome SA, Pietermaritzburg-based retailer Save Hyper and Maritzburg College for a water collection project.

This week Manline transported 6 000 litres of water to the predominantly farming community of Senekal whose reservoirs had dried up in December.

“In true spirit of Ubuntu, all the partners involved must be given due credit for their roles in making the project a resounding success,” said Barloworld Transport Chief Executive, Neil Henderson.

“As a group that provides transport solutions throughout Southern Africa, it made perfect sense to come on board, especially knowing we would be contributing positively in the light of intensifying drought conditions in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.”

The idea of a community water project was spearheaded by Awesome SA, a NGO whose mission it is to support other organisations that are making a difference to the future of South Africa by assisting them to become self-sustainable and to continue to grow. Di Smith, co-founder of Awesome SA and a change maker on several iconic South African initiatives said: “Listening to stories about the worsening drought situation in KZN and the Free State struck an emotional chord with me and I immediately sprang into action.”

“I made contact with a popular retailer in Pietermaritzburg to establish a partnership for water supplies and my efforts did not go in vain.”

“Having identified Senekal as one of the most drought-stricken areas in the Free State in need of urgent intervention, it became a calling for me to step in and help.”

“There is a deep sense of joy to be affiliated with a project of this nature which reaches into the hearts of communities and responds to their most dire needs.”

She said phase one of the project is to make drinking water available to the community while phase two would involve the installation of borehole pumps to enable the supply of water to schools and various other institutions in the area. However, funding would need to be explored for the construction of boreholes.

Giving a first-hand account of the severity of the situation, Senekal resident Mike Odendaal said: “At least 27 000 people in Senekal are dependent on water for rural farming activities and their livelihood.

“This year, the growing season was too short and in the absence of adequate rainfall, no yields were produced which has severely impacted the social and economic wellbeing of farmers as well as the residents of Senekal and Matwabeng as a whole.”

Rashaad Solomon, Save Hyper Store Manager, said: “Having been in business for more than two decades, we have a strong history of involvement in social development activities.

“We are grateful to be able to leverage our long-standing relationships with suppliers with whom we were able to negotiate competitive pricing for the supply of water in our house brand. This made it possible for us to sponsor bulk supplies of water towards a most worthy cause.”

Supporting the water collection efforts was Maritzburg College which contributed a few thousand litres of water.