The impact of water scarcity in South Africa
By now we know what is happening with the water scarcity issue across the country. We know about the multi-level water restrictions and how they affect Gauteng residents, here’s a look at the bigger picture of the effects of water scarcity.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, may be adamant that what is currently happening across the country is not a crisis but impartial bodies such as meteorologists, economists and agricultural experts have a different view.
Parts of KwaZulu-Natal have been declared disaster areas due to water shortages. Residents are receiving disaster assistance that includes water and food. Cattle have died in the thousands, the devastation is clear.
According to Mail and Guardian, the Free State province produces 44% of the maize we consume, so the drought is making it hard for crops to survive.
These two instances alone are cause for concern for ordinary people. With farming clearly struggling, food production will also face challenges. It’s safe then to say food hikes — even scarcity — may be on the cards. Even if rain does fall in a few months, it’s unlikely to be good news for the farming sector. El Niño is usually followed by El Nina, which are weather patterns that present heavy rains.
The water scarcity has affected a number of health facilities, according to the IOL, Helen Joseph Hospital, Rahima Moosa Hospital and Milpark Hospital have had water shortages, and even outages in some cases. Water tankers had to be delivered to at least two hospitals, according to this News24 report.
This means that not only have patients had to be turned away or transferred to other facilities, surgeries — granted, not life or death — have had to be postponed. It is important to emphasise that, at present, the situation has not had fatal effects.
With the farming industry currently not doing well, it goes without saying that jobs may be on the line there. The effects and impact of the current water situation are clearly going to be far-reaching.
Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, is quoted in report as confirming that “An estimated 6 500 stand-alone rural communities are currently experiencing water shortages. These are mostly situated in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.”