TWO pupils from a rural KwaZulu-Natal village will represent South Africa at an international water competition in Sweden next month.
Mzwakhe Xulu, 16, and Njabulo Mbatha, 18, both Grade 11 pupils at Prince Mkhombisi High School at Mabhensa village in Richards Bay, will showcase their water-saving invention at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize during World Water Week from August 18.
Their "automatic mechanical tap", which turns itself off when a bucket is full to prevent it from overflowing, earned them the top prize at the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs' South African Youth Water Prize competition in Pretoria last week.
Their science teacher, Khayalethu Ntlebi, said he was proud of his pupils because they had built their creation from "things that can be found in any hardware shop".
A delighted Mzwakhe, who dreams of becoming a hydrologist or a civil engineer, said he was passionate about environmental issues and water conservation.
"I'm very happy and look forward to going overseas and meeting other bright young minds. I have a passion for environmental and water issues," he said.
Growing up in a village without running water, Mzwakhe said he understood how scarce water could be. At school the boys drink rain water collected in tanks.
"Some people waste water as if it will run forever but we know that is not the case," he said.
Njabulo said he was disappointed that "some people waste water despite our country being one of the driest in the world. We need to take special care of our water resources".