While there are fund-raisers to provide fodder for animals, the focus of this hike is to provide humanitarian relief for families
A GROUP of hikers will walk 314 kilometres through arid areas of the Northern Cape to raise awareness for the plight of farmers, farm workers and their families affected by the ravaging effects of the drought.
The “Red ‘n plaas” (save a farm) event is taking place in conjunction with NG Kerk Noordkaapland, Caritas Community Focus non-profit organisation in partnership with Agri-Northern Cape and Kerk Sonder Mure, where the 11 participants will hike through Bushmanland from May 8-22.
Caritas Community Focus marketing manager, Este van der Merwe said that the initiative aimed to garner support for farmers in drought stricken areas of the Province and surrounding areas.
“While there are fund-raisers to provide fodder for animals, we are focusing on providing humanitarian relief for families. Good rainfall has not reached all areas of the Province.
“The project through the assistance of Radio Sonder Grense radio personality Amore Bekker has raised about R3,4 million that will be donated to the Drought Relief Fund. Bekker will also be taking part in the hike in her personal capacity.”
She added that NG Church Northern Cape assessed families in need.
“Assistance is provided in the form of food vouchers, household items, school, hostel and university fees, diesel and pastoral counselling to ensure that their basic needs are looked after. Many farmers are unable to pay their workers but are offering them food and accommodation. There are several farms that have no access to diesel and windmills cannot operate to supply water.”
Van der Merwe stated that Caritas offered a 24-hour hotline to distressed persons affected by the drought on the number 083 415 1484.
“The line is manned by qualified counsellors who offer emotional support … who can also refer callers for humanitarian assistance. We have received pleas from farm workers to contact farmers who are considering taking their lives. A number of farmers have committed suicide because they feel powerless, as they are unable to maintain their families, farmworkers and animals or sustain their farms.”
She said five of the hikers had also taken part in the walk through the Tankwa Karoo in 2019 while 2020’s walk was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This year, a group of seven hikers from Kimberley along with two from Naboomspruit and one from Wellington will walk from Calvinia through Bushmanland, to Garies – that is experiencing severe drought conditions.”
She added that they would document the extent of the drought during their expedition.
“Over the 15 days we will walk the entire distance, sleep in the veld and visit farms badly affected by the drought, along the way. A support truck transporting supplies that are too heavy to carry and will provide first aid or emergency assistance if the need arises.
“The route will cover Calvinia, Tierhoek, Naresie, Gannabos, Brandkop, Die Kloof, Kanakkies, Kliprand, Platbakkies, Studerspas and Garies.”
The hikers include Amore Bekker, Esté van der Merwe, Johan van der Merwe, Tharina van Tonder, Anri Holder, Ezbé Zwiegers, Hanna Erasmus, Henriette Hoffmann, Ida Jordaan, Johanna Botha and Melany Meyer.