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Pumping to save mutton

A six-year drought is bringing the farmers of Sutherland, in the Karoo to their knees. Farmers generally prepare for a one to two-year drought, but the current drought has pushed them to their limits.

Sheep are dying in such high numbers, due to hunger or being unable to fight bacteria, that they have dropped from 400 000 before the drought, to the 57 000 counted on April 8.

The drought’s impact is not only felt by the animals, but also by the local community.

Save the sheep

The local community of Sutherland and surrounds were directly responsible for the Save the Sheep campaign – a campaign launched to create awareness of the situation the area and its farming communities are facing.

Although the donations have helped a lot, the situation is so severe that sponsored feed itself is not enough, as the intervals of food delivery could not suffice the sustainability of the feeding needs of the community. A savings fund had been established, and a borehole campaign put in place. Funds raised for this borehole campaign have since been used to acquire more feed, at the lowest possible price for farmers in the area.

Save the Sheep has been registered as a Non-Profit Organisation, and are now able help farmers in the area not just with feed, but by gaining donations to assist in the drilling of more boreholes, and the sinking of pumps.

Grundfos bringing relief

All in all, around 208 holes are planned for the area with pumps needed for the area. With little to no funds available, buying a pump is out of reach for most farmers who are struggling to even create an income in current circumstances. Farmers in the area had approached Grundfos with this dilemma.

Grundfos and Gift of the Givers together with Save The Sheep, offered to assist with drilling for water in the area, for all farmers who would need it. Borehole water in the area is usually lifted by wind pumps, but these unfortunately do not allow for pipes to be sunk deep enough to access the available water.

Grundfos, along with Gift of the Givers have been assisting with drilling boreholes and the installation of pumps.

“Nothing prepares you for what these farmers are going through. To see tears, roll over the cheeks of a farmer at the first site of water, really affirms why we do what we do.” said marketing manager Willandri Cockroft, Grundfos South Africa.

Gift of the Givers’ promise was not to leave the farm unless water was made available. Currently just over 130 holes left to be bored. Success wasn’t always guaranteed, as it was difficult to find the water table with enough water flow.

Grundfos installation agents are putting together pumps with all infrastructure in place already, to the point where all the farmer needs to do is put the pump in the hole and connect the switch. This means that in less than 45 minutes, the whole pump is set up, and water is flowing.

The first 30 pumps have been bought, and at the current rate is pumping more water than was expected. Starting with Sutherland, the goal is to spread to the rest of the Karoo, providing much needed relief as far as possible.

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