The University of Johannesburg’s Process, Energy & Environmental Technology Station (UJ PEETS) and SOURCE Global, in collaboration with the UJ’s Faculty of Health Science – Water and Health Research Centre (WHRC), have embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to provide clean drinking water to families in the OR Tambo District of the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape Water Provision Project, saw 400 hydropanels being installed across four villages – Lujazu, Luphoko and including two schools in Mthambalala and Cutwini, giving over 1000 community members access to their own source of clean water.
Launched in March 2023, the project led by Dr Kousar Hoorzook from UJ PEETS, generates clean water from atmospheric vapour through innovative technology underpinning UJ’s drive to use technology for societal change. The hydropanels, harnessing the sun’s power to produce clean, drinkable water, held the promise of alleviating water scarcity in these underserved regions.
Says Dr Hoorzook: “Through community engagement we were able to identify remote and isolated villages which did not have reticulated water or any likely future water supply. We looked at criteria like access to water, plans for future infrastructure investment to gain access to water, climate and scarcity – to ensure we are responding to the needs of society, responding to a local need and working with the community to take the work forward.”
“Recognising the challenges faced by these communities in accessing clean drinking water, the project addresses this pressing issue by implementing cost-effective methods. The initiative harnesses atmospheric vapour to provide a renewable and sustainable solution, empowering families to overcome the scarcity of clean water.”
In 2022, UJ PEETS took a significant step towards providing sustainable water solutions to remote villages by conducting comprehensive training sessions. Village principals were introduced to the revolutionary SOURCE Hydropanels, and the mode of operation for these innovative systems was explained in detail.
She pointed out that the project’s objectives are twofold:
Firstly, it aims to improve access to quality water in the selected villages, directly benefiting women, children, elders, and people with disabilities who are most vulnerable to water scarcity and secondly, to reduce the efforts required for water collection, consequently enhancing the socio-economic value of the communities.
This year, UJ PEETS joined forces with WHRC to extend their impact further. Their training initiatives. Building on the success of their previous efforts, in 2023, UJ PEETS joined forces with WHRC to extend their impact further. Their training initiatives addressed crucial concerns like vandalism prevention and water contamination avoidance during the water collection process.
Participants were guided on the proper use of containers for collecting water and received demonstrations on correct hand hygiene practices to safeguard the purity of stored water. Emphasis was placed on highlighting the paramount importance of clean water and educating participants on the effective operation of the hydropanel system. Key strategies were shared to ensure efficient water distribution throughout the communities, aiming for equitable access for all.
Dr Hoorzook concluded: “UJ PEETS would like to strengthen these communities and provide them access to a dependable, long-lasting source of clean drinking water. The collaborative project is set to transform the lives of thousands of community members in the OR Tambo District. This sustainable initiative exemplifies the power of innovative solutions in addressing critical challenges such as access to clean drinking water.”
The collaboration demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development and the well-being of the local communities.
This project was funded by the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation from the U.S.A. Soon-Shiong is a medical scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He grew up in Gqeberha, studied medicine at Wits. He left South Africa in 1977 and has had a successful career in medicine in the U.S.A.