Last year, 45 million children lacked access to basic drinking water services in South Asia, more than any other region, but UNICEF said services were expanding rapidly, with that number slated to be halved by 2030

The Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) collaborated with Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) to ensure that communities in rural areas get clean drinking water through spring water projects in the province.

DRDAR Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Nonkqubela Pieters and Chris Hani District Municipality Executive Mayor Lusanda Sizani joined hands over a spring water project to support five villages in the Manzana administrative area as the community is suffering from the water crisis.

Pieters said that the program will be implemented by the department's Rural Appropriation Technology Unit (RATU) and it will be cost-effective as no tenders were issued for project construction. RATU trains locals workers and procures material for the construction of the project.

Furthermore, the MEC noted that the local people don't require anyone to do the maintenance work as will be skilled enough to work themselves whenever there is a requirement, SA News reported.

Pieters noted that around 75 locals including 61 young people, seven women and seven men were trained and employed to fix the issues whenever needed in the Manzana project, which is expected to benefit at least 1,220 villagers.

"In this program, we do not have a middleman or spend millions on contractors for something that will not be operational. We employ and train local people and in that way, we create opportunities for people to fend for their families," she said.

She added, "In delivering these spring water protection projects, DRDAR identifies nearby hills and mountains with spring water [that is channeled]... for use by households."

She noted that DRDAR and the CHDM executive mayor are in an agreement that allows to utilization of more than 250 natural springs in the district to bring the water to Chris Hani District people for drinking.

"They will now have access to clean drinking water because the implementation of the program will be accelerated. We will reach more communities through this collaboration with the municipality," she said.

Pieters said the department has implemented 17 spring water protection projects that are contributing towards community development with an investment of R14,765 million benefiting 4,123 households, and creating 967 temporary jobs.

Sizani, on the other hand, said the district municipality being both a Water Services Authority (WSA) and provider is "leaning towards the agricultural sector potential for growth."

"We are partnering with the department to bring water to the people for both consumption and agricultural activities. Through this program, we aim to achieve agriculture development prosperity," the mayor said.