BY: Mpofu Sthandile.

On Wednesday the 22nd of March, Cape Town based nonprofit, Save Our Schools non-profit organisation (SOSNPO) launched their long-term project, ‘Water in the Sky’ at Bloekombos Secondary School in Kraaifontein. ‘Water in the Sky’ pays tribute to the United Nations World Water Day 2023 theme, Accelerating Change, and will improve accessibility and availability of water and sanitation services to South African communities in need.

The launch of the project sought to address water, sanitation and hygiene challenges within informal communities in Kraaifontein, Cape Town and welcomed the installation of community gardens to feed the students and staff of Bloekombos Secondary School. South Africa’s population faces high levels of food insecurity, with an estimated 14 million people vulnerable to food insecurity during the period of 2022/2023.

The countries food crisis has an adverse impact on the wellbeing of men, women and children, with more than 5 million children in South Africa experiencing hunger every day. In Cape Town, food security is exceedingly threatened, as the Western Cape’s dam levels have dropped below 50% as of February 2023.

Moreover, in countries like South Africa, access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities remains inadequate, with 33% of the rural population without access to basic sanitation services2 .

As such, ‘Water in the Sky’ is an innovative, aerial pipeline solution with an integrated vertical garden and rainwater harvesting scheme, designed for informal communities. The project will be addressing water and food shortages affecting the impoverished in Cape Town, and then be extending to other parts of South Africa and the globe.

Strong points of the aerial solution are that there is no requirement for expensive civil works, it can be temporary and it provides easy maintenance and surveillance, light for the pathways to toilet and handwashing facilities, which contributes to safety. The pilot will include testing and support from some of the best R&D companies in the world, who will opportunity of testing in a real-life environment.

Companies have the chance to spot talent in the community and assist with the overwhelming task of reducing unemployment, a key factor for SOSNPO’s project and sustainable goals. The project will provide opportunities for local craft and skill upliftment, while resolving some of the most urgent community issues. ‘Water in the Sky’ further welcomes an educational component, and saw the establishment of the Save Our Schools (SOS) Harvesters, a group of grade 10 students at Bloekombos Secondary School passionate about agriculture.

The harvesters each received their harvester’s kit containing the necessary gardening gloves and tools, and will be receiving agricultural training and education surrounding the maintenance of water-conscious vegetable gardens. Somila Swelindawo, a Grade 10 pupil from the school, was elected as the SOS Harvester Leader, and will be responsible for ensuring the groups continued upkeep of the gardens and organisational responsibilities thereof. Somila comments, “This is a very exciting journey for me and I’m very excited and happy. I’m looking forward to seeing a very wonderful outcome.

Being a leader brings a lot of excitement to me because I know I’m always a good leader and my job is to make sure everything goes well. I thank SOS for this wonderful opportunity and the experience”.

The rollout of the project will see the finalisation of a Secondary School vegetable garden at Bloekombos Secondary School, courtesy of Nestle. In the upcoming months, vegetable gardens at four early learning development centres and one other secondary school in the area will commence courtesy of RE/MAX Foundation, Puma, AGT Foods and Hallmark.

Brand representatives from RE/MAX, Xylem Watermark and SOSNPO all got their hands dirty planting their growing billboard, as a long-term reminder of their contribution to alleviating hunger and water-insecurity in impoverished areas. RE/MAX were also kind enough to bring their hot air balloon, and although weather conditions prevented flight, it brought great joy to the harvesters. Lush and Earth and Co. generously contributed to the harvester’s kits, whilst Ludwig’s Roses kindly donated white roses to be planted at the school.

SOSNPO is very proud of this Project and excited in the prospect of piloting this unified global solution. SOSNPO CEO Shelley Humphreys states, “We are really proud of WATER IN THE SKY and the fact that we have achieved international awareness with this pilot project by UNESCO GREEN ACADEMIES – ‘from Rhetoric to Action’. SOS has an international reach via our UNESCO partner status and is planning to expand to other areas of South Africa this year”. Over the coming weeks of the campaign, Save Our Schools Non Profit Organisation will be inviting brand representatives to finalise their growing billboards and take a tour of hope of the community garden.


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