Northern Cape

Drought Disaster: Northern Cape farming towns relying on water and food donations

While everyone is well aware of the drought in the Western Cape, these Northern Cape towns are being hit even harder. Help is there but more is needed.

Northern Cape

While South Africans across the country are generally aware of the worsening water crisis in Cape Town and the Western Cape, most are unaware that the drought has already reached a critical status in parts of the Northern Cape. The town of Calvinia has played host to the beginning of a project that is trying to keep thousands of farmers afloat.

Calvinia is 301 kilometres from Cape Town, forms part of the Great Karoo and has summer temperatures that peak above 40°c.  The town is also renowned for its night sky views as an incredible 80% starlight can be seen.

Sadly, this story is not about the natural positives in Calvinia. The town is currently going through a crippling drought, so bad, in fact, that one could even argue the situation is far worse than the Western Cape.

While the situation may be disastrous, one kind man has made all the difference.

Burre Burger started his project: Droogte Hulp (met Burre Burger) in March this year, since then, the program has grown massively as farmers and residents across the province share their stories.

The Facebook group with that name has over 15 000 members as farmers across the Northern Cape are left to beg for help. Livestock dying, empty taps and a shortage of fodder have led to thousands seeking help, Burre was the man to help them.

We’re now days away from November and Burre’s project has delivered over 400 trucks of goods to multiple towns. For Burre, providing drought relief came after a life-changing experience.

“Recently, I was involved in a huge car accident in which I wanted to take my own life. This was before I knew there would be such a devastating drought in South-Africa. When I came to, I promised Jesus, “I will do whatever YOU need me to do”.

Another factor for Burre was the news that one of his close friends had committed suicide due to the drought. He was a farmer and left a note with just four words: “Die droogte het gewen”.

Hope delivered on the back of a truck

Burre’s deliveries began with organising water trucks to Calvinia and Loeriesfontein, a town affected so badly, that almost no water comes out the taps most of the day. Burre spoke to us at length about his project so far.

“At first, I told myself I was only going to do five trucks, then it became ok, let’s do ten, then let’s do 20. Now, this past weekend we’ve just done our 400th truck of goods.

Like I always say, you need a farmer three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Delivering water quickly turned to also delivering, maize, fodder and grain. As you can imagine, these deliveries soon became more than Burre could afford. So, fundraising began in earnest, dances were organised, a bank account was set up and the word began to spread: Help Burre and his team help the farmers.

The people clearly answered the call as Burre says over R10.7 million rand has already been spent on renting trucks and buying the products for delivery. Toyota even joined as a sponsor and donated a bakkie to help with the transportation.

It costs R22 000 to transport one load of feed across the province, while there have been many donations of fodder, Burre says it costs around R100 000 to purchase and deliver loose maize.

“One of my friends and I saw a little goat that was dying, he came to some small place of shade, just so he didn’t die in the son. To see stuff like this, it hurts.”

More help needed, more to come

Currently, Burre and Droogte Hulp are assisting 6700 farmers in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Southern Cape and Eastern Cape. With so many humans, animals and communities depending on Burre’s help to survive, they need your help too.

On the Droogte Hulp Facebook group, you can find live videos from Burre and the team, all as the truckloads of goods arrive at those who need it. Read the individual calls for help and see the heart-breaking photos.

If you’re able to, you can donate to the following account.

Account Name: Droogtehulp met Burre

Bank: First National Bank

Account Number: 62721858522

Branch Code: 200406