Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and Gift of the Givers to partner on metro’s water crisis



As the water crisis in Nelson Mandela Bay worsens, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Gift of the Givers Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality have partnered on a series of urgent interventions to avert a humanitarian crisis in the metro.


The Chamber in partnership with the Municipality will coordinate the efforts of local businesses that have volunteered to help repair the metro’s severe backlog of water leaks through an Adopt A Leak initiative which is in the process of finalisation.


With leaks accounting for 29% of the metro’s daily water consumption, and a running backlog in which new leaks are reported almost as fast as existing leaks are repaired, accelerating the pace of repairs is critical to reining in water losses and conserving the metro’s water supply.


Adopt A Leak will work similarly to the Chamber’s Adopt A School initiative, which has supported 46 schools and clinics to date with plumbing maintenance and repairing leaks, as well as providing alternative water solutions such as rainwater tanks and boreholes.


Business Chamber chief executive Denise van Huyssteen said the Chamber’s key water crisis interventions – Adopt A School, Adopt A Leak and the Water Crisis Fund – provided a platform for business to help mitigate the risks associated with the water crisis and would be implemented in partnership with Gift of the Givers.


“Taps running dry risks an unprecedented health and humanitarian crisis in the metro, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas. This is a time when we all need to stand together and work for the greater good of Nelson Mandela Bay.


“The response of businesses willing to volunteer their services, time and resources to avert a crisis by repairing leaks, installing water tanks and boreholes, treating water and other assistance, has been really encouraging. We welcome the metro council’s approval of a memorandum of understanding on Adopt A Leak as this enables business to implement this voluntary assistance in a coordinated, integrated way.


“We have agreed with Gift of the Givers to openly share our plans and resources and coordinate our efforts, making the business and civil society response to the water crisis more efficient and effective,” Van Huyssteen said.


Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, who arrived in the metro with his team earlier yesterday, said they had started borehole drilling within hours of their arrival, focusing on disadvantaged areas in the “red zone”, at the most imminent risk of running out of water.


He said that Gift of the Givers would also be tracing existing boreholes that are still viable and can be restored to use, providing immediate access to water.

They will also be installing water tanks at the sites to be serviced by municipal water trucks, so that residents can collect water at any time without queuing or waiting for a water truck to arrive.


Water tanks will be placed in secure locations at schools, clinics, hospitals and police stations to serve surrounding communities.


“Partnering with the Business Chamber is the best way to move forward, as we already work with many of the Chamber members, and we can ensure coordination of resources and efforts. We have identified immediate projects that will most benefit the metro and we stand ready to do whatever is needed with the Chamber – whether it is to act as implementing agent, interface with government or deploy funds into projects where they are needed,” Dr Sooliman said.  “Funding for boreholes pumps, Jojo tanks, drilling of new boreholes, and supporting the repair of electrical and mechanical equipment will speed up the water delivery process.”


Van Huyssteen said the Chamber’s water crisis fund would provide a mechanism for businesses to contribute towards the various actions which will be undertaken to rein in water losses and mitigate risks associated with the water crisis, with priority focus on Adopt A Leak, Adopt A School and various humanitarian initiatives.


Dr Sooliman added that businesses contributing to the fund would receive a tax certificate from Gift of the Givers to enable donations tax deductions.


“Although daily consumption has dropped to 262 megalitres per day, down from 285MLD a few months ago, the leak situation is still dire and this is where we will be focusing, along with boreholes, pump water treatment plants, rainwater harvesting, and repairing or upgrading pumps at dams.


“At the same time, residents and businesses still need to cut water consumption, implement solutions such as rainwater tanks, and also search for leaks on their own premises. It is vital that all stakeholders pull together to reduce the severity of the water crisis,” Van Huyssteen said.


Nelson Mandela Bay Joint Operations Centre on the Water Crisis, Luvuyo Bangazi said “ the JOIC welcomes the initiatives and will do whatever is necessary to make sure this initiative succeeds.”


Business willing to volunteer expertise and resources, or contribute to the Water Crisis Fund, can contact the Business Chamber on 041 373 1122 or email joc@nmbbusinesschamber.co.za