South Africa water crisis drought

Image via Pixabay

South Africa’s looming water crisis: Drought and dire infrastructure

The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, is expected to address these issues today.

South Africa water crisis drought

Image via Pixabay

South Africa is on the verge of a national water crisis, with drought and poor infrastructure maintenance creating a desiccated dichotomy which promises to worsen in the upcoming months and years.

In recent months, taps have run dry in various provinces across the country. In some areas, like Kimberley and Tshwane, waterlessness is the direct result of dire infrastructure and resource management. In the Eastern Cape, a crippling drought, coupled with meagre contingency plans, has left thousands without water.

Cape Town ‘in the clear’ while other areas dehydrate

The Western Cape knows the impact of drought all too well. The City of Cape Town also learnt – the hard way – that prevention is far better than cure. Stringent water restrictions, dam rehabilitation projects and desalination schemes were instituted two years ago, when the City of Cape Town quickly realised that its water supply would not quench citizens’ thirst through the summer season.

While Cape Town – and the greater Western Cape – managed to narrowly avert disaster, danger still looms for the rest of South Africa.

The Eastern Cape, which has been the site of wholesale livestock deaths and failed crops as a result of the prolonged drought, has not seen proper rain in five months. Councils in the following municipalities – Sarah Baartman, Chris Hani, Amathole, Alfred Nzo, and Nelson Mandela – have declared the drought a disaster and are actively seeking governmental assistance.

Eastern Cape drought: Livestock lay dead, crops fail

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA), however, government has failed to recognise the extent of the problem and has offered up only a pittance in financial aid. The official opposition party states that the province will need at least R1 billion to combat the effects of the drought.

Government has offered up R3.2 million to the embattled region.

As a result, the DA has blasted the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for being disengaged. Dlamini-Zuma has been urged to declare the drought a national disaster.

Rand Water restrictions in Gauteng

Residents of Laudium, in Tshwane, were recently left without a drop of water when taps ran dry without notice. The shortage, resulting from infrastructure failures and Rand Water restrictions, embattled the region for four consecutive days. Because of a recent heat wave in the area, schools were forced to close and residents were left fuming with a lack of official response.  

A drop in Limpopo’s dam levels have also manifested in water scarcity in Tzaneen, Mogalakwena, Modimolle, Bela Bela, Thabazimbi and Polokwane.

In the North West province, intermittent water disruptions, as a result of drought and poor planning, have forced government’s hand. Towards the end of 2018, the North West Provincial Disaster Management allocated R300 million to be used for upgrading water infrastructure.

Sisulu to address South Africa’s water crisis

The problem, on a national scale, has grown too dire to ignore. As a result, the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, convened an urgent media briefing on Monday 28 October.

Sisulu, who has also been lambasted for not doing enough to ensure water flows freely, will be joined by representatives of Rand Water and Gauteng’s local government.