More drought aid for KZN as shortages grip the country

2015-11-01 17:54
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg – The Department of Water and Sanitation has committed a further R96.620m to finance water tanks and additional drought intervention projects in KwaZulu-Natal, it announced on Sunday.

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the drought currently affects 173 of the 1 628 water supply schemes nationally, serving approximately 2.7 million households.

She also revealed the scale of the effect of the drought and the state of water security in the country. "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,” said Mokonyane.

She said this number could increase to over 11 000 rural communities as the dry period extended and local water resources got depleted.

So far, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State provinces have been declared drought disaster areas.

Mokonyane added that in badly affected areas such as the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, southern parts of Mpumalanga, and parts of Limpopo, North West and the Northern Cape, about 50% of local water storage is problematic and could become critical if not managed carefully.

"It is clear that the drought has indeed affected our country adversely in some areas, and while we have water in a majority of our dams and systems, there are areas struggling with access and supply due to the current conditions."

In January, the department already committed R352.6m to the initial drought intervention projects in KwaZulu-Natal. Farmers in the Western Cape have already applied for drought relief, she said.

Mokonyane said the normal heat and weather patterns experienced recently have resulted in an increase in demand on the system by consumers.

"I must however confirm, that Gauteng faces no imminent risk of water shortages," she said.

"If you consider that we are getting water from Lesotho to supply this economic hub that is Gauteng, one would easily deduce that we have long been in crisis but as things stand, our own assessment and planning shows that we have enough water in the system and storage to guarantee supply to Gauteng in particular."

Mokonyane confirmed that the situation in KwaZulu-Natal was the worst since the 1960s, with dams at an average 58% capacity.

One of the solutions for the water scarcity in the country was a direct pipeline from the Gariep Dam to Mangaung, the minister said.

She once again appealed to individuals and businesses to use water sparingly.

Read more on:    nomvula mokonyane  |  durban  |  drought  |  water

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