South Africa: Too Scared to Leave the House - Farmers' Fears As Drought Claims Precious Flocks


Cape Town may have avoided Day Zero, but there are parts of South Africa that have not, particularly several Karoo towns in the Eastern Cape that have run out of water. Boreholes and dams have dried up, taps have run dry and the rain stays away, reducing farms to dust and threatening communities. Maverick Citizen spent last week in the towns of Graaff-Reinet, Bedford, Makhanda and Adelaide. Many residents wonder why Cape Town's water crisis got national attention while they get very little.

There is a sombre atmosphere in the beautiful Methodist Trinity Church in Caledon Street where farmers from Graaff-Reinet meet to discuss drought relief. They softly talk about the rain that fell on Monday. Only six to 10 mm here and there.

Dave Stern, the chairman of the Sneeuberg Agricultural Association, makes notes. Nobody really talks. Farmers are sending their apologies. They cannot afford the diesel to come into town. Others are in a desperate battle to save their flocks.

"There is a type of grass on my farm known as suurpol or mountain wire grass. I never thought I would see the day that those plants are dying," Stern said. "Even the thorn trees are dying."


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