Endgame Media (Linda de Jager) and Indaba my Children (Monako Dibetle) initiated a National Arts Council (NAC)-funded documentation and awareness creation project of the “Moretele Water Stokvel” in 2020. Moretele is a community of ~5 000 people situated ~70 km northwest of Pretoria in the Moretele Local Municipality (Bojanala Platinum District Municipality), North West Province. Despite being only ~7-13 km east of the ~41 million m3 Klipvoor Dam (and along the southern banks of the Moretele River feeding into the dam), Moretele has suffered from water insecurity and municipal inaction for decades. When the town’s taps ran dry in 2009 a group of 13 women pensioners formed a “water stokvel” with R500 monthly contributions from each member. By the third year, enough money had been saved by the water stokvel for an ~80 m deep borehole to be drilled on the first member’s property, followed by others in subsequent years. This allowed the women of the water stokvel and Moretele 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 and Indaba my Children worked in association with a range of artists (land artist Strijdom van der Merwe and illustrators Ben Tjibe and Rickey Pascal Freehand Nzoni), hydrogeologists from The Umvoto Foundation and African Seeds Group to:
- create awareness about the importance of groundwater and water resilience;
- document and celebrate the women of the water stokvel and their contribution to improving the quality of life of the Moretele community; and
- educate and assist the Moretele community in becoming further water resilient and food secure into the future, along with the importance of living in association with a healthy ecosystem.
The Umvoto Foundation, through Umvoto Africa, initially provided hydrogeologists to: 1) assist the artists with documenting community groundwater use in different visual mediums; 2) engage with Grade 7 learners of the local Ramaifala Primary School via an in-person workshop where the hydrological cycle, aquifer exploration and development, the effects of aquifer pollution and contamination (through visual experiments), and how to/why take a water sample were explained to the learners; and 3) collection of preliminary surface and groundwater samples for water quality analysis for the community, to provide an initial indication of groundwater quality for further community groundwater management planning.
This initiative aims to become a unique blueprint for other at-risk communities to achieve water security and enhanced coping capacity in a similar way through water stokvels (reducing dependence on local government in the process), along with creating awareness of the importance of sustainable community groundwater use in a changing climate.