South Africa: Eastern Cape Drought - 'Hope Is Our Only Choice'


As good rains fell in the drought-hit Karoo for the first time in months, communities were talking of nothing else. Every farmer knew exactly to the millimetre how much rain they had and when, and were anxiously watching the sky and the field for what is known as 'follow-up rain'. But for the communities in Karoo towns, while many celebrated the first real summer rain of the season by running around outside, the struggle for potable water continues.

"Hope is now our only choice," said Peter Knoesen, a farmer and the chairperson of the Steytlerville Agricultural Society. In the Karoo, hope comes in degrees of rain: Soft, hard and thunderstorms, and it is measured in millimetres. The first 10 days of January were filled with hope. "We are watching the field," said Knoesen. "It will take a few weeks, but we are watching to see what the rain did."

Last week, some welcome rain showers were recorded over the Karoo.

The farm Rietfontein outside Steyterville after 20 mm of rain. (Photo: Nerina Hayward)

Garth Sampson from the South African Weather Service in Port Elizabeth, said the total rainfall for Fort Beaufort was 80mm with Makhanda measuring 49mm and Graaff-Reinet 41mm....

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