South Africa’s water challenges

With seasonal cycles between floods and droughts – water quality or lack thereof, are creating limiting factors to South Africa’s development. Not just a climate change dilemma but also a problem of municipal constraints – South Africa has witnessed many cities, towns, communities, and businesses threatened by water supply failures.

South Africa’s water challenges vary from province to province, with the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North-West, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape all being declared disaster areas. While the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Johannesburg have restrictions in place, the Karoo is predicted to get hotter, threatening water supply for farmers and making it almost impossible to maintain productive farming.

Adding to that, Gauteng, Limpopo, Durban and Port Elizabeth rely heavily on dams and rivers as a potable water source. But over time, these sources have been contaminated by the illegal dumping of industry and municipality wastewater.

If we as South Africans wish to meet our common aspirations of social and economic development, we need to acknowledge the limitations of our natural water resources and prioritize their use and protection with wastewater reclamation and increased focus on reuse.