Water-resilient project launched in Bloekombos

Bloekombos’s problems with high unemployment haven’t been helped by tight water restrictions, but a non-profit has come up with a project to help water-reliant small businesses, as well as schools and other social institutions, in the area.

While the City of Cape Town eased water restrictions slightly earlier this month after winter rains topped up the dams, the future is still an uncertain place for Bloekombos’s ubiquitous car washers and small-scale farmers: the dams are far from overflowing, and Cape Town is going into its dry season with no guarantee of what next winter’s rains will look like.

So while the water restrictions have been eased from Level 6B to Level 5, municipal water remains expensive and the restrictions continue to prohibit its use by car washers and small-scale farmers. Schools also have to stick to strict daily quotas.

The non-profit, Save Our Schools, has a plan to give the community its own supply of non-municipal water.

The project is called Future of Water and Save Our Schools launched it at the Masibambane High School on Wednesday last week.

SOS director Shelley
Humphreys told school pupils and staff that the organisation would work with a water-pump manufacturer to build water towers in the area to supply non-potable water to car washers and small farms and in the future assist other under-resourced communities. “We will also assist with alternate water resources for all six schools in the area, as well as the HIV clinic, churches and other micro businesses here,” she said.

Save Our Schools and the water-pump manufacturer handed over eight 5000-litre tanks to Masibambane High School principal Rajan Naidoo at last week’s launch function.

“These tanks will provide water for everyday activities, as well as aid in the maintenance of the school’s food garden,” said Ms Humphreys.

More tanks and at least four water towers would be installed at other locations in the community in coming weeks, said Ms Humphreys.

“The water is borehole water donated by a Woodstock-based property firm. SOS will truck the water to the holding tanks in Bloekombos”.

In a statement, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said: “Entrepreneurs and small businesses are a vital part of the Western Cape economy, so I am very pleased that this partnership will assist small businesses and small farms in Bloekombos so that they can continue operating and contributing to the economy of the local community.”

After the handover, the school’s marimba band and gumboot dancers entertained the visitors and the school choir sang a song of appreciation in Xhosa.

Bloekombos car-wash owner Monica Fritz, said her business was closed for two months nearing the festive season last year and she had to use her pension to feed her family.

She is happy that she will no longer have to use recycled water or spend money on waterless cleaning products she can’t afford. “My business can get back to when things were running smoothly. I was so depressed when the car wash was closed, but now I have peace of mind,” she said.