Armani brings back the hope to water-scarce village of Limpopo

Armani’s global water initiative, dubbed Acqua for Life, has successfully brought 2 800 people closer to water in a water-scarce village in Limpopo.

The UN recognised access to water and sanitation as a human right in 2010.

Since then, Armani’s global water initiative has helped more than 590 000 people and has thus far invested over €14-million (R278-million) in water projects in 23 countries.

By 2030, Armani’s Acqua for Life aims to be a source of water for over 1-million people.

Through the initiative, Armani aims to raise awareness about water scarcity, as by 2025 it is estimated that half of the world’s population could be living in a water-stressed area.

Yumnaa Waja, GM for L’Oréal Luxe’s luxury division, said key about Armani is that sustainability is at the heart of everything it does, noting that it is natural for Armani to be involved in such a water project.

“Aqua is one of our franchises, which is water. Gorgio Armani launched Armani Acqua for Life in 2010 when water became known as a human right,” Waja told Sunday World this week.

“The marriage between living in South Africa and seeing the realities of the water-scarce challenges and Armani saying let us do this in partnership with water aid, we immediately decided that water should be taken to water-scarce communities.

“With Limpopo topping the list, we started there and made a great success in bringing 2 800 people closure to water.

“For our project manager Jessica [Mahlekisi], the experience was personal experience, as she comes from Limpopo.”

Elijah Adera, regional programme manager southern Africa for Water Aid, said: “Our partnership started globally with Armani in 2017 and Water Aid was able to bring South Africa under their attention and highlight the water-scarce communities where they graciously came to the party.

“Armani’s hand in this has increased our resources helping us reach more people.

“As Water Aid, we have a global strategy which is a 10-year strategy, but when dealing with countries, we develop a five-year plan that is tailored to each country.

“With more resources, we will expand from Limpopo to the Eastern Cape and then Kwazulu-Natal and change lives.”

Adera detailed his most touching engagement that was documented in a portrait and placed in studio.

He said: “Bridget, a 17-year-old girl was my favorite documented story. She dropped out of school to get water for her family from a long distance, she had to leave school as she could not balance school and getting water, so she had to choose.

“But now with the help of this initiative, she is able to start a business where she sells fruit and is saving the money to go back to school.

“She shared that being able to take a bath and be clean during her menstrual cycle has made her more confident about herself.”

Adera made sure to leave a message for government before ending his engagement with Sunday World.

“The construction was done by women from the community wearing the PPE [personal protective equipment] and mixing cement hand in hand with men.

“We did not employ people outside the community, we upskilled those in the village. The government should learn from this, government needs to engage with the affected people.

“You cannot just drill a hole and place a tap in a random location, that is why vandalism takes place, there is no sense of ownership. Government needs to include communities in the projects, so that they look after the infrastructure.”

Reuben Ngubane, business development manager southern Africa at Water Aid, elaborated on the longevity of the project.

“The concept of helping the world is always based on targeting the most needy first,” shared Ngubane.

His eyes lit up when he shared a story with Sunday World about how Water Aid will tackle the water-scarce challenge.

“Every winter the sardines are thrown out of the sea, both dead and live ones and the community comes out with buckets to load the sardines for their dinner.

“There was a young boy who checked for those sardines, which were alive, and started throwing them back into the sea. He was then approached by an old man who asked why he did not have his bucket to load sardines for dinner?

“The boy replied: ‘No, if we had more people I would throw more back into the sea, but I only have two hands to save some sardines that can populate for the next season to feed more people.”

Continued Ngubane: “With that said, Water Aid will target the most vulnerable with the resources that we have, and later stretch our resources to impact one water-scarce community at a time.”

South African artists and twin brothers Justice and Fhatuwani Mukheli captured a series of portraits of people who have been positively impacted by the Acqua for Life programme in Limpopo.

The portraits are displayed in studio at Nirox Sculpture Park to highlight the concrete impact of access to water.

Justice shared: “The Acqua for Life created an opportunity for myself and my twin brother to be part of the project in my village in Venda.

“Storytelling was done through my photography and role as a film director, gathering the feel and impact of the brand [Armani] that jumped on board to help with a water solution.

“Previously, villagers used to walk more than 20km over the mountain to get water, and the other option was a river where live crocodile are. This project brought about a tangible change in the village, as water is now accessible.

Justice extended his gratitude to the Acqua for Life project.

“I am truly grateful that Armani took responsibility for the wellbeing and basic needs of people who they have no connection with, they spent their money and used resources to make life better for my village.

“The next young boy will not face the water-scarce challenges that I did when I grew up in the village.”

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