Moretele, a small township within the Bonjanala Platinum District Municipality ~70 km north of Pretoria and ~90 km northeast of Rustenburg, had their taps run dry in 2009. This lack of water supply and municipal inaction resulted in thirteen women (predominantly pensioners) of the community coming together in 2013 to create the Moretele Water Stokvel. As part of the water stokvel each woman saved R500 per month of their pension to drill boreholes within their community. After three years of saving, the first 80 m deep borehole was drilled in one water stokvel member’s backyards, followed by others in subsequent years. This allowed the women of the water stokvel and community to become more water resilient and food secure, including replacing outdoor pit latrines and wash buckets with water-based indoor toilets and baths, and allowing for subsistence agricultural irrigation.
Endgame Media were provided funding by the National Arts Foundation to visually tell the story of the Moretele Water Stokvel and approached The Umvoto Foundation to assist in providing scientific understanding to the community on the Lebowa Granite Suite basement aquifers in the vicinity of Morelete, as well as the importance of keeping water sources free of pollution/contamination. Endgame Media representatives along with Sasha Dean Singh, Umvoto Africa’s Junior Geologist, visited the community to engage with the Grade 7 learners of Ramaifala Primary School, where he explained the hydrological cycle, targeting aquifers for water supply, the effects of pollution and contamination (through visual experiments), and showed learners how to take a water sample. Water samples were collected from four locations (three groundwater samples from boreholes and a surface water sample from the Moretele River) for water quality analysis for the community, to assist with understanding the groundwater quality and community management of the aquifer. African Seed Group donated seeds to the community for food security, allowing the community to become more sustainable by providing food for themselves. Land artist Strijdom van der Merwe also engaged with the community and created land art to explain the effect water can have on a person and community. The Umvoto Foundation also collaborated with illustrators, Ben Tjibe and Ricky–Pascal Nzoni Mikulu, in an initiative to bring visual understanding and awareness about groundwater to schools in the area and help tell the Moretele Water Stokvel story.
This initiative aims to become a unique blueprint for other communities to achieve water security in a similar way through water stokvels, and to create awareness that groundwater is a precious resource that should be looked after for the future. Future work through Endgame Media and The Umvoto Foundation aims to improve community groundwater management at Moretele (and potentially other areas).