Maps Maponyane & Zandile Ndhlovu take on epic challenges for water conservation

JOHANNESBURG – It's not rare to hear people talking about not having water in South Africa, be it accessing clean water or just having dry taps for weeks.

In fact, towns and cities across the country are continuously facing critical water shortages due to a number of reasons, population growth that is unmatched by supply, horrible town planning, erratic rainfall and hotter temperatures resulting from climate change just to name a few.

In their way of trying to bring attention to the need for water conversation, Glenfiddich, in its third edition of its Challengers Club, teamed up with television personality Maps Maponyane and freediving instructor Zandile Ndhlovu.

Eyewitness News caught up Maponyane and Ndhlovu who are aiming to help raise awareness around the problem of water scarcity in South Africa and hope to ensure that quality water is accessible to all.

"Both Zandile and I care deeply about water security in SA, which is why we each undertook an epic personal challenge to help provide clean drinking water for some of the most impoverished communities. Our aim is to help raise awareness around the problem of water scarcity in SA and to ensure that quality water is accessible to all," said Maponyane.


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The Rockville and High Rollers actor travelled to Iceland where winter temperatures can drop as low as -10 degrees Celsius, in search of water untouched by man and therefore completely free of microplastics.

“Finding water untouched by man means literally going to the edge of the world – an incredibly difficult trek. The irony of it all is that if we keep polluting our water, finding the best quality will someday no longer be an adventure to write home about, but a way of life, something I truly believe no South African or anybody, in fact, should have to experience,” said Maponyane.

He brought back a rare specimen of the most precious commodity on earth as a souvenir to raise awareness around water security.

“The water was collected in airtight canisters and carefully protected to make sure it remained uncontaminated and transported back to South Africa where it was then tested to make sure the pH balance and mineral content was safe for drinking,” said Maponyane to Eyewitness News.

Meanwhile, Zandile “The Black Mermaid” Ndhlovu in her bid to raise awareness around microplastics in our oceans deep dived to clear the ocean floor of plastic.

“Water number one ensures that even in the long walks to be able to get to the water source that the water is clean. You know I think that's the hard part about rural areas, particularly in that there is such a far distance from places like hospitals and I think that can be a challenge and so ensuring clean water allows for people to live in a dignified way. That says people aren't gonna get sick from the water that they are able to get to, it is already such a travel to get to the water.

Ndhlovu is South Africa’s first black Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) freediving instructor, whose aim is to help raise awareness around the problem of water scarcity in South Africa and to ensure quality water is accessible to all.

“What does it mean for that water to be clean and so I think it benefits people that live very far from water in that they know that there is security in the water that they drinking that they are safe and that they can have healthy and frequent access to this water and if there's a water scarcity you know as we all know it is always the most vulnerable communities,” said Ndhlovu.

According to WWF South Africa (World Wide Fund for Nature), the country is approaching physical water scarcity by 2025, and as we are still recovering from the drought of 2016, many households are directly impacted.

“The water challenges both locally and globally are enormous and it takes organisations such as the WWF, individuals and brands to make a difference and to educate others. The purpose of the 2022 Challengers Club is not just to raise awareness around the issue but to make a tangible difference and very real impact” said Maponyane.

In its report WWF further reveals that water demand is expected to exceed supply in South Africa by up to 17% by 2030.

“I have long used my platforms to highlight the human impact on the environment for South Africans and as a WWF ambassador, I jumped onboard for this project to raise awareness in order to encourage people to participate in the auction and/or donate directly to our Glenfiddich Water for Life Initiative – which aims to provide access to clean water for more communities in South Africa,” continued Maponyane, who is also a board member of WWF.


If you read South Africa’s Water Services Act it says that everyone has a right to access basic water supply and sanitation services, that a household is entitled to 6,000 litres of free water per month and that no one should be deprived of water for more than seven days in a year. This of course is not the case and one of the contributors to this is climate change.

“I think the issue of climate change and all the challenges that our natural world is facing is a hard discussion. I speak about this often and that the idea of conservation often comes from a privileged perspective it requires you to have a certain level of your Maslow’s hierarchies met that assumes that you have you've got access to food you've got access to shelter and then only can you begin to actually care about the external,” said Ndhlovu.

The ultimate target for water conservationists across the globe is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable drinking. But in South Africa we go for extended periods of time without water and for a lot of people conserving water is not on the top of their list even though we need it to survive.

“So for me when I talk about climate change or the challenges that the ocean is facing I recognize that we also have bigger problems and I say bigger problems relatively and contextually to the fact that if you do not know what you're going to have for dinner how do you begin to advocate for anything else when your immediate and pressing needs are not met,” points out Ndhlovu.

This often allows for fish populations to have an opportunity to grow, in the absence of this, we would see dangerous levels of depletion of fish life (where we currently are). Lists like @WWFSASSI help you know which fish you should be eating,

Zandile Ndhlovu (@Zandithemermaid) August 1, 2022

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), one of South Africa’s most prominent water issues is that most people don’t have enough knowledge on how to preserve it. Their research showed that South Africans use more water than the global average.

“So for me it is always just to say we can only do what we can when we can and I think that's good enough and you know I don't expressively go into climate change I speak about plastic I speak about our oceans I speak about how we can do better but I recognize that it is placing knowledge in a body in hope that when the time comes and where there is a possibility to advocate for nature the person and people will,” said Ndhlovu.

The research by ISS says South Africans currently use 234 litres of water per person daily, and the country’s per capita water consumption is higher than the global average of 173 litres. And that South Africans need to learn how to conserve water if they wish to avoid water scarcity.

“I think it's also important to recognise that it is often and is actually quite true it's not rural communities that are or the poorest of communities that are contributors to where we find ourselves today with regard to climate change or to the detrimental state that our oceans are finding themselves in you know we have not contributed equally if anything poor communities and rural communities have been the least to dent into the way in which the world finds itself today and so I think it's important that we also recognize that indigenous knowledge and African knowledge has also been a key part in how nature and in nature spaces have also been preserved so I think that's my answer to that,” said Ndhlovu.


Clean, fresh water is a limited resource. With all the severe droughts happening in the world, the limited supply of fresh water is one of our most precious resources. Every being on earth needs water to survive.

Maps Maponyane and Zandile Ndhlovu backed by Glenfiddich and in support of WWF took on their individual challenges as their way to help contribute to the conservation of water.

“Glenfiddich and so the challenges club the whole work is this auction the proceeds from this auction will go to supporting water security projects and I think this matters because you know they've identified a spring in the Eastern Cape that they we can rehabilitate and the whole idea says if we are able to rehabilitate springs then people have access to clean water now this challenge is interesting in that um we can only do one thing at a time you know I think it's hard to try and fix all the problems at once but I think it's a step in the direction of working to educate and being intentional about what changes we're going to make in society,” said Ndhlovu.

Today is Marine Protected Areas Day! A beautiful celebration of work that has been done to protect our Oceans and the life that lives within her, and now, to more inclusive ways that honour the communities that live around these incredible oceans too #MPADay

Zandile Ndhlovu (@Zandithemermaid) August 1, 2022

Glenfiddich hosted a gala dinner where 11 of the rarest Glenfiddich expressions were auctioned and all proceeds are said to be going towards funding one of the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) high-impact water conservation initiatives in the country.

“Each auctioned bottle’s casing is made partially from the recycled plastic cleared from the ocean floor by Ndhlovu, and inside it is a small bottle of Maponyane’s glacier water collected in Iceland as well as a rare bottle of beautifully crafted and delicately balanced Glenfiddich.

"At the auction and gala dinner, R137 500 was raised which will go towards water sustainability initiatives, endorsed by World Wild Fund,” said Kelly Johnson, Portfolio Manager for William Grant & Sons.

After the live event featuring a digital vault, Maponyane’s and Ndlovu’s challenges will culminate in the auction of 50 of the rarest Glenfiddich expressions from across time and place, made available exclusively in South Africa with an important story to tell.

All proceeds will go towards creating a sustainable water project in South Africa endorsed by WWF South Africa.

“This partnership has been such a great way to further celebrate a decade of the Journey of Water for us as the WWF. As we continually strive to spread the message that “water doesn’t come from a tap” our goal has remained the empowerment of our communities to help conserve water for a better tomorrow. Day zero is not something we want in this lifetime and to have brands like Glenfiddich helping to shine the light on such issues truly does go a long way,” says Justin Smith, Head of Business Development Unit, WWF-South Africa.

Glenfiddich’s said its Challengers Club is a movement of change-makers who are passionate about South Africa’s potential and are connecting and collaborating to facilitate solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

“Being changemakers is part of Glenfiddich’s legacy. We understand that when people come together great things happen. This is not a gimmick for us, but a commitment to do our part for mother nature. These bottles are beyond just collectors’ items, they are conversation starters that will go on to encourage actionable change anywhere they are found,” said Kelly Johnson, Portfolio Manager for William Grant & Sons.

All proceeds from the live auction and the digital vault hosted on will go towards supporting a community water project in the Eastern Cape province.

“Working with WWF South Africa, whose key pillars speak directly to the campaign narrative – Water, Oceans and Climate Change which forms part of Glenfiddich’s initiative, Glenfiddich Water for Life,” said Johnson.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Maps Maponyane & Zandile Ndhlovu take on epic challenges for water conservation

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