Fresh Clean water: Are we headed for a water crisis?

Fresh Clean water: Are we headed for a water crisis?


By Zuko Komisa

Water is the world’s most precious commodity. Where do we stand on this? The Department of Water and Sanitation has conceded that South Africa is facing a water crisis and has set up a plan to solve the crisis.

Despite this being an issue of national importance, it still doesn’t seem to make the headlines often enough. The department says part of the problem includes the following:

  • Insufficient water infrastructure maintenance and investment
  • Recurrent droughts driven by climatic variation,
  • Inequities in access to water and sanitation,
  • Deteriorating water quality, and
  • Lack of skilled water engineers.

Fresh Clean water: Are we headed for a water crisis?

Some of the most shocking statistics released by the Department paint a very gloomy future for fresh clean water in the country;

According to the Department’s report on the crisis it is estimated that over 3 million people still do not have access to a basic water supply service and 14.1 million people do not have access to safe sanitation.

  • In a population of over 54 million, only 64 % of households have access to a reliable water supply service
  • More than 50% of South Africa’s wetlands have been lost, and of those that remain, 33% are in poor ecological condition
  • And, only 5% of agricultural water used is by black farmers

John Perlman recently explored what would happen if our communities and economies ran out of water. Breaking down the extent of the water shortage crisis in South Africa, he was joined by Trevor Balzer, DDG at Water and Sanitation Department and Professor at the University of Free State, Centre for Environmental Management.


Listen to the full conversation here:

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