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Operation Hydrate brings relief to areas affected by drought

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A group of concerned citizens are attempting to provide relief to areas affected by the country’s worst drought in decades, distributing what could amount to a million litres of water by the end of the week. The initiative, dubbed Operation Hydrate was formed by users on a local crime-reporting whatsapp group in Gauteng.

According to spokesperson, Yaseen Theba, the group was spurred into action after receiving reports of an individual who was stabbed to death in a fight, purportedly while waiting in line to receive water. Several users then deliberated ways to aid those affected by the water crisis, so as to prevent further loss of life. The message was subsequently distributed to other whatsapp groups, eventually going viral.

“Before we knew it we had people doing collections for water, and money to purchase water. For the past few days we were able to collect funds for over 350 000 litres of water, which we distributed up until Sunday,” he explained, adding that the group were aiming to reach the 1 million litre mark by Friday.

Most of the group’s initial focus was directed at Senekal, Free State, one of the towns most affected by the drought, but the project has since spread to other towns including Bethlehem, Aliwal North and QwaQwa.

“Every hour that goes by more and more areas are being identified,” he noted.

Several organisations and businesses have come on board to support the campaign, including Jamiatul Ulama SA, Proudly South African, Mango Airlines, Shoprite, as well as Virgin Active South Africa. Thirsty Water, the company supplying the water, has also offered to cover the costs of transportation to the affected areas.

“The Jamiat was quick to get on board from the beginning; we had individuals from Jamiatul Ulama sitting in on the initial meetings. They contributed as well; from our teams that visited Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape, the Jamiat made up a big part of that, helping to distribute the water they sponsored.

“Although the situation is bad, it is good to see that so many people are working together, putting their differences aside to reach one common goal, which is to get water to those people that so desperately need it,” he said.

Despite the overwhelming amount of support Operation Hydrate Initiative has received, Theba said the campaign could only continue and sustain itself if more individuals and corporates came forward to donate to the cause. He also appealed for volunteers to come forward and provide support in physically distributing water to areas in need.

You can follow and interact with organisers of the Operation Hydrate initiative on Twitter via the handle or on Facebook at VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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