South Africa faces serious water crisis
Speaking on local television, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyana said water levels at dams have dropped drastically and the government having set aside R350 million ($26 million) to mitigate the effects of the drought.
It cannot be a business as usual approach, we are a water scarce country
“Dams are running dry and in provinces like the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal have already been declared disaster areas,” she said
Mokonyana said 2.7 million households – about 18% of the population – were affected by the drought. A total of 6‚500 rural communities‚ mainly in Kwazulu-Natal‚ Mpumalanga and North West faced critical water shortages.
“Water is a scarce resource that has to be utilised properly, municipalities have to enforce bylaws and introduce penalties for those that waste,” she told local authorities.
The minister recommended that Johannesburg – the country’s financial hub – introduce water restrictions similar to those implemented in the capital, Tshwane (Pretoria).
“Our dams are running dry and water restrictions help replenish our dams,” she said.
Mokonyane warned that Kwazulu-Natal, in particular, was facing one of its driest periods on record.
According to reports, community members in an area in the province have been battling to get water with some of them going on the rampage, barricading roads with burning tyres and boulders and stoning motorists.
Mokonyane said they are exploring different ways of getting water supplies, including desalination of sea water for use, especially within the construction industry that is highly dependent on water.
“It cannot be a business as usual approach, we are a water scarce country and reliant on our neighbours in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region to assist us.”
Southern Africa faces a drought this season, with dams across the region running dry.
Tanzania has decommissioned hydro-electricity generation due to low water levels, while Zambia and Zimbabwe have to deal with incessant power cuts, as water levels in the Kariba Dam, where the two countries’ hydropower is generated, have reached very low levels.