Safe water for 100000 patients and 10000 learners per year

Hluhluwe, in Northern Kwazulu Natal lies between the Hluhluwe-Mfolosi Game Reserve and the magnificent Lake St Lucia. This tourist hub has very poor access to potable water, their water is trucked in and pumped into reservoirs from which people decant into buckets for home use.

As the source of water is often contaminated, diarrhoea is the biggest killer of children under 5 in these rural communities, and aggravates the management of HIV/AIDS.

Due to lack of money and access to electricity, people chop down trees for fires to boil their water. LifeStraw© filters are proven to reduce the environmental degradation dramatically. With less time required to fetch water and find firewood, children have more time to go to school. Rotary is not only supporting the health of the community, but we are impacting on the environment and enabling education.

Rotary SafeWater , Sea Point Rotary, Aqua4Life and Relate provided water filters at 3 clinics and 14 schools in Hluhluwe. This equates to clean and safe water for 100000 patients and 10000 learners per year.

How was this project funded?

5000 bracelets were bought by Marriott Hotels

Rotary SafeWater is a project conceived by the Sea Point Rotary Club. Funds are raised through the sale of Rotary SafeWater bracelets, made by an entrepreneurial non-profit trust called Relate. For every bracelet sold for R35, R8.50 goes to the SafeWater project. Relate is an effective partner with a global marketing reach. Funds for this project were raised when Mariott Hotels bought 5000 bracelets. Not only did this raise R42500, but information about the project went to every Marriott Hotel around the world. Subsequently, we have had excellent support from Protea Hotels in Southern Africa, which were recently taken over by Marriott Hotels.

The general manager of Protea Hotel Hluhluwe, Daniel Tharatt, bought our bracelets to support our cause and his local community. Daniel, who is like the godfather in the community, is deeply concerned about the health of the population in which he runs his hotel and gave us a call to help him.

Based on research which Daniel did, we were able to identify the schools and clinics for the lifestraw installations.

Collaboration

Nico Germishuizen, the CEO of Aqua4Life, is the re-seller of LifeStraws in Southern Africa. He plays an integral part in planning and delivering filters to the communities in need. Before any installation takes place, buy in from community leadership is essential. Daniel shared his enthusiasm with the mayor and municipality, as well as local community leaders. Star for Life, an NGO which is well established in Hluhluwe schools, got involved and some of the Empangeni Rotary Club helped with installations at one of the clinics.

Installation

As is common in rural communities, one has to go with the flow and work at the pace of the local organisers. What was meant to be an intense 2 ½ days of installation of 19 units, turned into a leisurely engagement with 4 schools and 2 clinics. Fortunately, Star for Life was happy to install the remaining units with appropriate training and buy-in from the beneficiaries.

Impact

Nurses in the Mduku clinic were particularly impressed. Sister Gumede, the chief nurse stated, ”we send our mothers home with powdered antibiotics for the children. We cannot use our clinic water because it is not clean enough. So we tell the mothers to boil water, let the water cool and then make the correct mixture. We are always worried that our instructions are not carried out. Now, that we can use this LifeStraw, we can make the mixtures in the clinic and be sure the children get the right medicines.” The Mduku clinic sees over 5000 patients a month, and the community LifeStraw will have a huge impact on the health of the clinic’s community.

What next?

Although the introduction of LifeStraws has had a major mobilising impact, the impact on the health of the community is admittedly limited. Children and patients now have clean and safe drinking water at their schools and clinics, but contaminated water will be used in their homes and elsewhere. Planning with the municipality and other funders has begun to install LifeStraws throughout Hluhluwe. We hope to create a model which can be repeated in other communities which will have a major impact on the health and environment in the community.

What else can be done?

Funding for further units to ensure the health of people in Hluhluwe is required. The cost of installing family LifeStraw units in 5000 homes, will be about R2.25m. Other clinics and schools also need community units. Funding can be done by buying Relate bracelets or direct deposits into the Rotary Club of Sea Point Benevolent Account.

Rotary Clubs and other NGOs are encouraged to contact us to find out more about running their own Rotary SafeWater projects.