Social Media Helps Alleviate South Africa’s Water Crisis

As the worst drought in more than 100 years sears South Africa, Good Samaritans are spreading the word on social media to bring water to the parched residents of Cape Town. One woman in East London, South Africa has used WhatsApp to mount a massive campaign to send jugs of water to the beleaguered city.

Talita van der Heever lives in East London, a town about 600 kilometers away from Cape Town. The mother of a baby girl, van der Heever realized that Cape Town mothers can not feed their babies formula without water. She took to WhatsApp and recorded an impassioned plea to family members and friends to donate water to Cape Town. Her video rapidly spread through social media to East London and beyond. Water donations were soon pouring in from other cities like Durban and Johannesburg. Individuals and businesses in Namibia even offered to help.

The “Water 4 Cape Town” campaign has collected more than 180 tons of water for Cape Town. The South African NGO Gift of the Givers is spearheading relief efforts, sending tons of animal fodder to desperate farmers and shipping bottled water to thirsty Capetonians. The charity is also collecting donations from abroad and has supplied more than 50,000 bottles of water to Cape Town.

Western Cape, a province in southwest South Africa, has been especially hard hit by drought conditions. Due to reduced rainfall and a burgeoning population of more than 4 million souls, Cape Town is particularly vulnerable to water shortages. The latest drought first began in 2015, but worsened in 2017. By October 2017, it became clear that the city would soon run out of water. The city government has sharply limited daily water consumption to 13.2 gallons per person. Currently, Cape Town is projected to run out of water on May 11.

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