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Remote Eastern Cape villages now have access to clean water, thanks to installation of hydro panels

400 hydro panels were installed in four villages in Eastern Cape for the purpose of clean quality water.
hydro1 400 hydro panels were installed in four villages in Eastern Cape for the purpose of clean quality water.
Image: supplied

Over 1,000 residents have been able to access clean water after 400 hydro panels were installed in four villages in the Eastern Cape.  

This was done through the commitment of some faculties at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in association with Source Global, who have embarked on an initiative to provide clean drinking water to families in the OR Tambo district municipality. 

Dr Kousar Hoorzook from UJ, who is leading the project, said the initiative's objectives were to improve access to quality water and to reduce efforts required for water collection. 

“It aims to improve access to quality water in the selected villages, directly benefiting women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities who are most vulnerable to water scarcity; and secondly, to reduce efforts required for water collection, consequently enhancing the socio-economic value of the communities,” said Hoorzook. 

The project was launched in March by the UJ Process, Energy & Environmental Technology Station (UJ PEETS) and Source Global in collaboration with UJ’s faculty of health science – Water and Health Research Centre (WHRC). It was funded by the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation from the US. 

Hoorzook said the project generates clean water from atmospheric vapour through innovative technology.

“This type of project underpinned UJ’s drive to use technology for societal change. The hydro panels – harnessing the sun’s power to produce clean, drinkable water – held the promise of alleviating water scarcity in these underserved regions,” she said. 

These hydro panels were installed across Lujazu, Luphoko (including two schools in Mthambalala) and Cutwini. 

Hoorzook said through community engagement, they were able to identify remote and isolated villages which did not have reticulated water or any likely future water supply. 

“We looked at criteria like access to water, plans for future infrastructure investment to gain access to water, climate and scarcity – to ensure we are responding to the needs of society, responding to a local need and working with the community to take the work forward,” Hoorzook said. 

She added that recognising the challenges faced by these communities, the project addressed the pressing issue by implementing cost-effective methods. 

The initiative harnesses atmospheric vapour to provide a renewable and sustainable solution, empowering families to overcome the scarcity of clean water,” said Hoorzook. 

Hoorzook said it was encouraging to see the industry join hands with the university to address the issue. The collaboration demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development and the wellbeing of the local communities,” she said. 

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