Villagers facing a dry festive season

ABOUT 40000 residents of Giyani are likely to face a black Christmas this year because of an ongoing severe drought in the area.

Giyani and Letaba were declared disaster areas by the Limpopo government and the Mopani district in August.

This was after Ntsami and Middle Letaba, the only two dams supplying water to communities around Giyani and Letaba, experienced a huge drop in water levels.

At the moment, the water level for Middle Letaba is 5,5percent while Ntsami stands at less than onepercent, highlighting an extremely dire situation.

The problem started early this year, sending the district to the national and provincial government to plead for financial injection, but all in vain.

Mopani district municipality executive mayor Joshua Matlou said thedistrict needed about R250million to alleviate the problem.

He said the district had pleaded with the national Department of Water Affairs and the Treasury to come to their rescue.

"If we do not get any help now, then we have a problem that can last us until next year.

"This means our communities may face drought even during Christmas and New Year," Matlou said.

He said some of the temporary measures implemented by the district were to supply water in tanks on the streets to areas where there was no drop of water and to impose restrictions on households to use water sparingly .

He said at the moment the district had put aside R10million for Letaba municipality, Tzaneen, Ba-Phalaborwa, Giyani and Maruleng for re-drilling and equipping of boreholes.

Matlou said their long- term measure was to draw water from the Nandoni Dam near Thohoyandou, which was 80percent full at the moment, to Giyani, which was about 60km away.

The director of the Department of Water Affairs in Limpopo, Alson Matukane, said the problem could be addressed if the national government declared the area a disaster one.

"The ball is in the hands of Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka to make a pronouncement and, until then, it will take some doing to address the problem without funds."

The disheartening situation in the area has also rendered President Jacob Zuma's initiatives for poverty alleviation pilot projects impractical.

Projects such as roads and bridges construction, vegetable gardens and tourism have to do with little or no water from the rivers.

Villagers at GaSekhunyane, Bambanane, Maphalle, GaKoranta, GaThomo and GaDaniel have to either buy water at exorbitant prices from those with boreholes in their yards or share river water with animals.

This has given rise todiseases such as cholera and diarrhea.