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'You stay on your knees': Middelburg farmers struggle as drought grips EC town

The town has three reservoirs, but they're running low. There are also a number of boreholes, but it's not enough to beat off a drought.

The Nqweba Dam in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

MIDDELBURG - Middelburg residents remain hopeful that it will rain even as water shortages persist in the town.

There are three reservoirs, but they're running low. There are also a number of boreholes, but it's not enough to beat off a drought.

Situated in the middle of the Great Karoo, the small agricultural town has about 19,000 residents.

* Wilhelm Stahl Hospital could soon be without water as drought grips EC

Barbara van Zyl has been living in this town for many years and when her husband passed away, she continued farming.

As a woman farming in this area, she said the added stress of the drought has been a major challenge.

“It’s very hard. You stay on your knees. You see the clouds, then they disappear. You are working with animals that don’t have food. You’ve got staff to pay, who have families to raise.”

Van Zyl said she and many other farmers hoped for rain.

Handri Vorster, who is the councillor for the Inxuba Yethemba Municipality, said there had been water shortages since the end of winter.

“If you have a day where there’s 30 degrees and more, you can go up to four days without water in the upper town.”

Vorster added that the short-term solution was rain. However, she said the government had failed to maintain the boreholes and fix water leaks to keep the reservoir stable.