OVER population is a problem affecting many countries around the world. Predictions are that, in the next ten years, drought and water shortages will be severe — affecting many communities globally.July 11 saw the commemoration of World Population Day around the world, a day aimed at raising awareness about the things that affect the world and the environment. It’s also the United Nations’ (UN) day to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment. This year saw the 45th anniversary of the launch of the day. Umvoti community water activist Brian Walker believes that population expansion comes with serious repercussions for the natural resources and environment. Communities in the jurisdiction of Umvoti and Umzinyathi are already feeling the pinch from water shortages that are affecting all wards. “All the water comes from snow and rain. Some percentage goes to the river and the other goes down to the underground. Chemicals that are being produced by mines block the rain and destroy the ozone layer.“When the [Methley Lake] dam was built it was only supplying water to the few residents of Greytown. Over the years new houses were built — the first extension across the stream was France. When it was fully occupied, we had Angola, followed by Solomon township. Now we have the Greytown Slums Clearance. Due to this, we are back to the little dam feeding all the people [of Greytown],” Walker said.He said interim measures should be implemented to avoid further water shortages in Umvoti.“I think perhaps putting desalination plants along the coast would be ideal, however they are expensive to put up and to run because they use a lot of electricity.“The next ten years will not be easy. It’s going to be difficult as the number of people increases,” he said. According to Walker, education about the significance of saving water is importance. Walker has been in the forefront of water education in Umvoti, educating communities and pupils about saving water.“It’s important for our people to understand why it is important to save water and protect the environment,” he said. “When you go to the river you find a pile of pampers floating in the river — this alone damages our environment. After a whale has been washed up, plastics and pampers are found in its stomach [as a result of this pollution].” According to Statistics SA, in the Census 2011 conducted in Umzinyathi, the population had swelled from 495 737 in 2007 to 554 882 in 2016, a growth of 59 145.In Umgungundlovu, the population was recorded at 988 837 in 2007 and at 1 095 865 in 2016.The province of KwaZulu-Natal in 2016 had a population of 11 065 240 compared to 10 259 230 in 2007.