1 in 3 South African children
experience hunger or are at risk of hunger

Statistics South Africa (2010). General Household Survey 2009.

Thank you for subscribing to A Spring of Hope’s newsletter! We’d like to provide some background information on our organization and what motivates us in our core mission – bringing fresh water, sanitation solutions, and improved nutrition through permaculture to the schools in impoverished rural South Africa.

Profound Poverty and Neglect

Poverty and neglect is widespread throughout the African Continent, and South Africa is not immune to these problems. On the one hand there are the glamorous cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town and on the other, there is the profound, inescapable poverty of rural South Africa. The root of these problems is high unemployment, poor education in the black communities, the AIDS epidemic – orphans as a result of the disease number in the millions, an ailing public health system, inadequate infrastructure, and spacial challenges that marginalize the poor.

Problems in South Africa - Profound, widespread childhood poverty

In the Limpopo region alone, where A Spring of Hope focuses most of our efforts, a staggering 83.3% of all children live in poverty. To visit this region is to be profoundly affected by the abject neglect, as organization founders Joanne and Brittany Young discovered on their first trip to Africa in 2005. Brittany had this to say after one of her first visits:

I would never have imagined that a vacation in South Africa would change my life, but my visit to a rural South African school, Beretta Primary, stuck with me. The school had over 1,200 students, from preschool to seventh grade, all living in poverty. It lacked desks, school supplies, and even proper floors. However, the most shocking problem was the lack of running water. Rivers and lakes are far from Beretta Primary and its town, Acornhoek, suffers from drought, AIDS, unemployment, and a rapidly growing number of orphans.

The Cycle of Poverty

Without safe water resources, the chances of breaking the cycle of poverty are slim, a difficulty with which African women are all too familiar. The burden of collecting water lies directly with women and girls, who are forced to spend nearly sixty percent of each day collecting water. They may have to walk several kilometers to water sources, with no guarantee it will even be available, once they stand in line for hours with their jerry cans waiting for their turn at the tap. The bulk of their time spent on water collection also results in a deficit in education for girls.

Limpopo Province, at 83.3%, has the
highest rate of childhood poverty. Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town

Water Scarcity

Access to reliable water sources is one of the major problems in Africa. According to a 2006 WHO report, of an estimated 800 million people who live in Africa, 300 million live in a water stressed environment. The most immediately apparent impact of water scarcity in Africa is on the health of its population. As water is so essential for life, those living in water deprived regions are forced to rely on unsafe resources. This results in the spread of waterborne diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea. These widespread health problems then affect the productivity and development of African communities. Those who are affected are simply too sick and weak to contribute. To compound the problem, economic resources that could be allocated to agriculture or education are sapped by the cost of treating these waterborne diseases.


To further complicate the issue, there are limited sources of clean drinking water available in Africa. Surface water is often highly polluted, and infrastructure to pipe water from fresh, clean sources to arid regions is too costly. Groundwater is the best resource to provide clean water to the majority of areas in Africa, especially rural Africa, and groundwater has the benefit of being naturally protected from bacterial contamination as well as being a reliable source during droughts. However, accessing these sources is expensive and many communities do not have the means to drill a well, let alone install the necessary infrastructure.

Tackling the Problems in South Africa

ASoH is committed to drilling wells at schools in South Africa. In addition to drilling wells, we have also developed, with the assistance of the dedicated principal of Beretta Primary, Leanette Sithole, a comprehensive permaculture program, in which all our partner schools participate. This program allows the schools to maximize the yield from their gardens and conserve the precious water supplied by their wells.

However, many challenges continue to present themselves. Sanitation remains a big issue. Many schools lack adequate toilets or kitchen facilities to prepare the food grown in their gardens. Our dedicated team is always searching for solutions. For instance, we are installing waterless toilets at some of the campuses and we maintain relationships with all our partner schools, allowing us to identify those which are struggling with garden cultivation or need repairs on their irrigation infrastructure and provide them the necessary ongoing support.

Join Our Community

We are a small charity, but we are constantly seeking new ways to grow and extend our support community. We have developed partnerships with South African Airways, the Irie Foundation, the Rand Water Foundation, and House of Mandalea, among others. One of the advantages to being a small charity is that we have very low overhead and all funds donated are directed towards projects.

Visit the schools page to see case studies of our partner schools and to see the current schools we are seeking to help.

Won’t you join us in our mission?
A gift as little as $5 can supply water to a child for a whole year.

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