Lesotho has come to the rescue of its neighbours in South Africa by sharing much-needed water from the Katse Dam with Aliwal North.
The water was released in terms of a bilateral agreement between Lesotho and South Africa in terms of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
The release was authorised by Director-General Margaret-Ann Diedricks as residents begged for water from motorists passing the town.
The release was to restore and stabilise water levels in the Upper Orange River (upstream from Gariep Dam) for use especially at Aliwal North in the Joe Gqabi district municipality.
Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the water arrived in the Aliwal North area on Wednesday night to relief.
The department stressed that the water was for human consumption and it would monitor illegal abstraction.
Meanwhile, a movement by the public to get thousands of litres of water to people and animals in distress around the country, is growing.
Kath Brink of the organisation Little Brink in Table View, Cape Town, is one of the good samaritans coordinating the collection of water to be trucked to places that are struggling in the drought.
"It is scary. I just can't imagine what it must be like to have a baby in the house and to have no water," said Brink.
"The people of Table View have been amazing." Within two days more than 200 litres had been dropped off at her house, and as word spread, more was coming.
The organisation usually collects clothes and food for the needy, but this time it is asking that residents either buy bottled water, or spare a litre or two of their own tap water, considering that Cape Town also has water restrictions.
The Table View Neighbourhood Watch has stepped up and volunteered to be a collection point at their control room at the SA Police Service in Parklands Main Road and they will take the water through to Brink.
Water for that drive can be dropped off until Sunday 10 January at 16:00.
Brink hoped the water would be trucked up by a company already involved in water drives but if not, she will start a fundraiser to get the money for a truck.
She was inspired by a Facebook group Water Shortage South Africa which called on people to donate bottles of water through collection points around the country.
Malls, schools and garages are offering to be drop off points for water while transport is co-ordinated through their Facebook page.
People who make regular trips to areas that need water volunteer to take water and drop it off and people in provinces that are not hit by the drought have offered to fill JoJos for transport back to areas with no water.
According to the group's website, https://sites.google.com/site/watershortagesouthafrica/home anybody who wants to donate should mark drinking water DW and tap, rain, or tank water TW. The latter can be used for livestock or for washing.
Five provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State and North West - have already been declared disaster zones because of the drought.