/ 18 December 2023

Water purification system brings economic opportunities to a Mpumalanga village

Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to South Africa, Aysegul Kandas, delivers her keynote address at the launch.

The YoTenga Water Filtration and Purification System and Bottling Facility was launched at Pfunekani Preschool in Welverdiend, Mpumalanga

Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency (TIKA), Indalo Inclusive South Africa, and the Kusini Water partnership handed over a water treatment system and subsequently launched the YoTenga Water Filtration and Purification System and Bottling Facility at Pfunekani Preschool in Welverdiend, Mpumalanga.

For many years the school has struggled to access clean water, despite the fact that it has boreholes on its grounds. The quality of the borehole water unfortunately could not meet the preschool’s needs of meal preparation, cleaning and providing drinking water to the young kids — a major need in a village that experiences high temperatures and dry conditions. 

Dignitaries at the launch event.

“At times we would have to bring water from our own households to cater for the kids or use rainwater, which we had to boil first, in order to use at the facility,” said the founder of the preschool, Ms Mavis.

The water project presents a solution to the challenge of access to water while offering the preschool and its community the opportunity to generate revenue through the bottling and sale of purified water to households and the many lodges surrounding the village, which is in the Kruger area.

Pfunekani Preschool has come up with the name for the water brand, “YoTenga”, which is the Shangaan word for “pure”.

The water filtration and purification system was installed in the pre-school and officially commissioned on Monday, 10 December at a launch attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to South Africa, Aysegul Kandas. TIKA, the international development co-operation agency of Türkiye with 22 offices across Africa, is the funding partner of this project.

MMC of Bushbuckridge municipality Patricia Gubayi and Turkish Ambassador to South Africa Aysegul Kandas cut the ribbon to the water purification facility.

The presence of the ambassador at the launch signifies the Turkish government’s commitment to its developmental objectives.

In her remarks during her keynote address, the beginning of which she made in isiZulu, the Turkish ambassador expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration between her country’s co-operative agency together with Indalo Inclusive and Kusini Water. Kandas, who was visiting the Kruger area for the first time, expressed interest in establishing more partnerships with Indalo Inclusive local institutions and lodges in the area. 

“Türkiye is also looking forward to working and offering support to the nature reserves, and I will be further discussing these [plans] with the minister of tourism,” Kandas said. 

She also said that her office is eager to identify a young scholar from Pfunekani Preschool to be a beneficiary of their bursary scheme, Türkiye Scholarships.

The water filtration system installed at Pfunekani is the innovation of project partner, Kusini Water, founded by Murendeni Mafumo. The Indalo alumnus builds water treatment systems from nanotechnology and macadamia nut shells to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in rural, peri-urban and informal settlements throughout Africa. 

Murendeni Mafumo, founder of Kusini Water, demonstrates how the water purification facility works.

Kusini Water rolls out their innovative water system through a skills development programme, which trains unemployed youth to operate water kiosks in their own communities.

Indalo Inclusive’s mission is to initiate and support high-impact, environmentally friendly and social entrepreneurial innovations as well as to foster partnerships among ecosystem stakeholders. The YoTenga Project accomplishes this by forging mutually beneficial and co-operative relationships between the various stakeholders within Indalo’s nexus of partnerships, which span across several sectors.

The Muthlwarini Co-operative, represented by its deputy chairperson Isaac Mdluli, was present and addressed the gathering. The Muthlwarini Co-operative is a beneficiary of the partnership between Indalo Inclusive, Old Mutual and the Mont d’Or Hotel Group, which sees local community members benefiting from the employment and economic opportunities presented by the nearby lodges in the area.

Rest Kanju, Director and Head of Operations at Indalo Inclusive, said partnering with enterprises like Kusini Water and receiving financial support and cooperation from TIKA to help the Muthlwarini Co-operative would achieve the organisation’s desired outcome of seeing social and economic development of the community. This occurs through the generation of much-needed revenue from the sale of bottled, purified water to individuals and families in the community. They also supply water to the nearby lodges, impacting local tourism.

In keeping the spirit of community involvement and inclusion, Chief Mlambo represented the local tribal authority at the launch.

Clean water is the source of life, and now it is a source of income for the local community.

MMC of the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality Patricia Gubayi said that the water filtration system will not only benefit Pfunekani Preschool, but that it will also benefit the community at large by fighting the scourge of poverty that the area faces. She added that the municipality has a large number of wards to deliver services to, making it a challenge to meet the demands of its population with state funds alone.

“We are thankful to have embassies like that of Türkiye who lend their support where needed,” Gubayi said in her address. 

“We are happy to be one of the lucky municipalities who have received such facilities that will bring a huge change in the province, not just the community of Welverdiend,” Gubayi added, and concluded by stating that it is the responsibility of the community to look after the facility and ensure that all the equipment is taken care of.