South Africa is fast approaching a water crisis of “disastrous” proportions‚ Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday‚ adding that the country was the 30th driest in the world.
Speaking during a visit to Illovo in Kwazulu-Natal as part of his national Vision 2029 tour‚ Maimane charged that the crisis was not only a climate problem‚ but a problem of governance.
“The burden of low rainfall is being exacerbated by poor maintenance‚ aging infrastructure and an intermittent energy supply‚” he stated‚ adding that South Africa had a constitution that guaranteed the right to water in the Bill of Rights but this right was being denied to millions of the country’s residents.
The effect of this crisis had been felt deeply in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where dams were only 35% full on average. Without rain‚ this supply would be depleted within two months‚ Maimane cautioned.
“In this province alone‚ an estimated 1 million people have been impacted by water shortages and water restrictions‚ while others have to walk tens of kilometres to source drinking water.
“We have already seen the humanitarian impact of this‚ but we are increasingly seeing the agricultural and economic impact.
“Without water for irrigation‚ sugar farmers are suffering and mills are closing. The result is job losses that we certainly cannot afford. In KZN‚ almost 40% of people are already unemployed – a rate well above the national average.”
Maimane said the water crisis could not be allowed to go the way of the electricity crisis.
“We cannot afford national water load-shedding on top of electricity load-shedding. We need to take urgent action to prevent this looming disaster‚” he warned.
“On average we lose 37% of revenue from water due to physical leakage‚ commercial losses and any unbilled consumption. In many irrigation and municipal water supply schemes this figure can reach as high as 60%‚” he added.