To address South Africa’s water crisis we must overhaul our non-inclusive systems of water access. That includes kicking our addiction to water-hungry, climate-change-causing coal.
Organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, are recommending frequent handwashing to prevent an uncontrollable outbreak of Covid-19. For many, however, such recommendations have been difficult if not impossible to follow given our uneven distribution of piped water, with an estimated 54% of South Africans without access to water in their homes.
Adding insult to injury, earlier this year, the government once again declared South Africa’s drought a national emergency. That emergency is playing out against an unequal backdrop where communities have long been overlooked by the government, particularly the 33% of South Africans living in rural areas.
Cape Town’s recent drought received a lot of media attention. Meanwhile, the brutal reality of drought has been playing out much more severely in less wealthy, less white provinces such as the Eastern and Northern Cape. In Makhanda, drought, mismanagement and inequality are combining into a perfect storm of waterinaccess, where handwashing becomes near impossible for those facing extreme water cuts.
Those with the least access to basic needs such as water have felt the most dramatic effects of the country’s almost six-week lockdown. The pandemic is exposing cracks in government leadership which failed to provide universal access to clean water and invest adequately in infrastructure. Read more…