South Africa must make better use of its scarce water sources:
It is disappointing that the water crisis in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMBM) was overlooked by political parties, like the ANC, the DA and the IFP, during a recent debate on water and sanitation in Parliament.
This is not just an Eastern-Cape problem, it is indicative of the situation in the entire country and serves as proof that South Africa must make better use of its scare water sources as every single drop counts.
Unfortunately, people only seem to realise this when the last drop has dried up.
It frequently happens that large quantities of water flow away to the sea from places that received good rainfall. Being one of the driest countries in the world, South Africa cannot afford this sort of wastage, or underutilisation. Dams must be built, including in the Orange River, and water must be channelled from there to where it is needed.
Agriculture is vital to food security and job creation in South Africa and our farmers are doing very well considering how little water they have at their disposal. They could do so much more if they had more water. The region stretching from Kirkwood to the Sundays River Valley, with its large orchards, that gets its water from the Orange River demonstrates how successful agricultural endeavours can be if there is enough water.
The same can be done in the regions of Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Willowmore and Steytlerville, all the way to the NMBM. There are thousands of hectares of land that could be successfully cultivated if there is adequate water supply.
Given the large amounts of money lost due to fraud and corruption, the excuse that there is no money to do this holds no water. This is not a luxury; it is ensuring survival and it will also counteract the depopulation of rural areas.
At present, the NMBM’s largest dam, the Kouga, is filled to only 4% capacity. Its catchment area spans from Willowmore, the Baviaanskloof, Joubertina, Misgund to Haarlem.
Two weeks ago, it rained 150mm in this area and yet the Kouga’s water level did not rise. The reason for this is that the tributaries that are supposed to channel the water to the Dam are overgrown. This is a crisis.
A short-term solution would be to immediately and properly install water collection tanks at homes to ensure that not a single drop goes to waste.
The NMBM is facing a humanitarian disaster that will impact every person in that area. This should serve as a warning to the rest of the country as well: Water is valuable and must be used wisely.