The landscape of the Bushveld draws you in as you drive into Mapela in Mokopane, Limpopo.
In this dry, yet mineral-rich region, Anglo American Platinum is working to ensure that the 42 villages of Mapela have access to free and clean water.
Since the early 2000s, various parts of Limpopo have experienced water challenges. Several years ago, Anglo American Platinum began trucking in water to the 42 villages to lessen the effects of water scarcity on the residents.
Villagers gathered to get water
But 18 months ago, the company undertook a bold, and more long-term solution: to provide water to more than
70 000 people living in the 42 villages of Mapela over the next 10 years.
As part of its social and labour plans to benefit the local community, Anglo American Platinum partnered with the Mapela Traditional Authority, the Mogalakwena Municipality and the Mapela Task Team and Hall Core Water Mapela - a newly-formed company co-owned by the community to sustainably increase water supply in the area.
The company aims to do this by drilling and maintaining boreholes in the villages for the next 10 years.
So far, the mining company and Hall Core Water Mapela have worked together on providing water to the first village. The provision of water in Scheming village was completed through the drilling of a 60m deep borehole which provides 100 000 litres per day to over 2000 village dwellers. “We recognize that water is life and dignity. We saw an opportunity to think innovatively about how we could bring water to the people of Scheming in a sustainable manner,” says Lebang Gaobepe, Anglo American Platinum’s Senior Social Performance Manager at the Mogalakwena Mine. Gaobepe says the project will also be implemented in all the 42 villages and at least 88 people will be permanently employed for the next 10 years.
“This project is about more than just water. It is also about how we can improve the lives of the people living in these villages through job opportunities and skills development. Security guards will be hired and as will technical assistants like artisans to maintain the boreholes,” he said.
Chairman of Mapela Task Team, Michael Moseamedi said a protest in September 2015 made the provision of water their top priority and led to the development of the water initiative.
“We spoke to Anglo American Platinum and asked them to work with us to find a solution to our water crisis. This project
started off with the company sending water tankers to the villages in late 2015.
“We lobbied the main players and we are happy the Mapela people will never speak of thirst again,” he said.
The community of Scheming said things have never been the same since they have access to water.
Eric Langa (53), a small-scale farmer who produces vegetables, said they previuosly depended on the rain.
“I was just here to feed my family but today I am able to sell to the community and feed my family.”
He said they are grateful to the mine and Hall Core Water for bringing water to their street.
“We don’t buy water anymore,“ said Eric.
Community member, John Maluleke (52) said they now have water every day.
“Our animals don’t walk long distances to get water and we can live hygienically because we can do washing anytime we want to. Life is really beautiful,” he said.
Jason Robbertse from Hall Core Water Mapela said they had to find a secure and sustainable way to get water to the people.
“We built a solar panel roof to pump and purify the water,” he said.
He said that they have put a network of pipes into the village and taps on the streets.
“We’re working to build communities where our mining operations live side-by-side with communities that are thriving,” says Gaobepe.