Mdluli Safari Lodge brings clean water access to 3 800+ residents of Makoko Village, Mpumalanga

by Media Xpose

On Wednesday morning, Mdluli Safari Lodge celebrated the commissioning of a borehole in Makoko Village, Mpumalanga, near the border of the Kruger National Park. The commissioning ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Hon. Fish Mahlalela, the Chairperson of Mpumalanga Tourism, Mr. Victor Mashego and the MEC of COGTA, Mr. Mandla Msibi.

The project has been held up as an example of how luxury tourism can contribute to poverty alleviation in South Africa. Sponsored by Lodge investors and other donors, the solar-powered borehole facilitates access to clean water for 3 850 villagers, in walking distance from their homes. These community members previously had to walk several kilometres to collect clean water for daily use to avoid waterborne diseases.

The National Minister of the Department of Tourism, Hon. Patricia de Lille, shared the following remarks regarding the occasion: “On behalf of the Department of Tourism, I wish to congratulate all stakeholders involved in the commissioning of the new borehole in Makoko Village, Mpumalanga. Access to clean water is a basic human right…I extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made this possible, with a special thank you to the sponsors mobilised by the Board of the Mdluli Safari Lodge.”

She added that the Mdluli Safari Lodge offers a meaningful example of what a successful land reform project should look like in South Africa, and concluded with the fact that tourism must lead to sustainable development in surrounding communities “indeed this project is another example of community upliftment”.

The nation’s clean water crisis
Currently, 19% of South Africans in rural areas lack practical access to a reliable water supply. This results in health issues and has broader implications for education, gender equality, and economic development.

The task of collecting water often falls to women or children, taking up time that could otherwise be spent on work or studies. Collecting water, particularly early in the morning or late at night, is also increasingly dangerous in areas plagued by crime.

The recent cholera outbreak across five provinces, which has claimed the lives of 31 people (including one in Mpumalanga), shows how crucial access to clean water is.

Transformational tourism
Mdluli Safari Lodge (MSL) is a luxury tented lodge in the south-western region of the Kruger National Park near Pretoriuskop.

Speaking about MSL’s ethos, Executive Manager, Chris Schalkwyk said, “Luxury tourism in South Africa is not just about providing guests an exceptional stay but also facilitating their part in changing the lives of those in South Africa’s poorest communities.”

MSL has been described as one of the best examples of successful land reform in South Africa.

In the 1960s, the Mdluli community was forcibly removed from their land as the apartheid government extended the borders of the Kruger National Park. In 1994, the community instituted a land claim process to regain title to the land. The land is once again theirs and is registered in the name of the Mdluli Community Trust, and is operating for the community’s benefit through a partnership with private investors.

The community’s Senior Traditional Leader, the late Inkhosi M.Z Mdluli, had a vision of developing this land for the greater benefit of the Mdluli Community through employment, education, infrastructure, and skills development. Due to his unfortunate and untimely demise in 1997, Inkhosi M.I Mdluli (who is the son and current Senior Traditional Leader) chose to continue with this great vision and partnered with a private investment fund to develop the Mdluli Safari Lodge, which opened for business in early 2020. 

Inkhosi MI Mdluli, shared some remarks on the significance of this project “Makoko Village is one of the places — along with three other villages — to which members of the community were displaced in the 60s. Today, the community has 45,000 members, and 65% of them are unemployed. However, the Lodge has been a lifeline to the community, in line with my late father’s desires.”

Ninety per cent of the Lodge’s employees are from the Mdluli community, and most of whom are women.

The borehole
The borehole was drilled to a depth of 82 metres and yields 2.6 litres of water per second, for an average of 52,000 litres per day. Its average daily energy consumption (of solar power) is 34 mWh. The opening of these taps demonstrates Mdluli Safari Lodge’s true commitment to the upliftment of the lives of the Mdluli community.

The lodge aims to continue its work to exemplify the role that our tourism industry can play in the sustainable development of communities across South Africa today. 

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