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‘We never imagined a life without running water’

Swartruggens residents say they've been pleading with government to intervene but there has been no action.

A mother sits on the pavement with her children after collecting water from the Operation Hydrate team in Steynsrus, Free State on 23 January 2016. Picture: Abed Ahmed/EWN.

SWARTRUGGENS - Residents in Swartruggens say they've never imagined a life without proper running water after nearly six months of dry taps.

The North West community is one of many in the country that have been affected by the worst drought to hit South Africa in decades.

Yesterday, hundreds of community members received bottled water from humanitarian initiative, Operation Hydrate.

Residents in Swartruggens say no one should have to go through this.

One woman says the past few months have been unbearable.

"We are suffering because we don't have water to wash and to do our washing. We don't have water to cook."

While water tankers are distributed to this community at least once a day, residents say supply is simply not enough.

They say they have been pleading with government to intervene but there has been no action.

One man told Eyewitness News he doesn't remember when last his tap had proper running water.

Hundreds of residents gathered around as Operation Hydrate volunteers distributed the water.

They say each bottle of water they received goes a long way in ensuring their homes are not completely dry.

Yesterday, Operation Hydrate said 450,000 litres of water would leave Johannesburg and Pretoria for areas in the Free State and North West.

Spokesperson Yaseen Theba said just over 2,7 million litres of water had already been distributed since the launch of the humanitarian effort.

"We will exceed the three million [litre] mark this weekend, thanks to the many donors, sponsors, supporters and volunteers."

He said while the provision of water has brought much relief, the need was still massive.

"We urge the public to continue donating water and cash."

The NGO launched its website this week, which will feature regular updates of their water distribution efforts.

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