Drought-stricken Northern Cape needs billions for water infrastructure

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
  • Billions are needed for the Northern Cape's water infrastructure.
  • Figures show 10 727 households in formal areas have no access to water, while 34 464 have no access to sanitation.
  • According to the provincial government, 72% of the province's towns rely on groundwater, 26% on surface water and 2% on a mixture of both.

The Northern Cape needs a whopping R22 billion for water infrastructure, while another R5 billion is needed to ensure decent access to sanitation.

Northern Cape Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC Bentley Vass presented these figures during a virtual sitting of Parliament's Human Settlements Committee on Friday.

"There are challenges related to the drought. A number of our municipalities are experiencing serious challenges, but the issues of Covid-19 assisted us. We managed to deliver almost 800 water tankers to our communities," he said.

But the very water tankers were now a challenge as authorities struggled to keep them filled, Vass added, saying all five regions of the province needed a massive cash injection into its water infrastructure.

Below is a breakdown of the figures:

  • Francis Baard R11 billion.
  • John Taolo Gaetsewe R3.9 billion.
  • Namakwa R2 billion.
  • Pixley Ka Seme R1.6 billion.
  • ZF Mgcawu: R3.1 billion.

These figures includes reticulation costs.

The province, which has the smallest population in the country at 1.2 million, relies largely on groundwater.

READ | Five years of thirst: Eastern Cape battles brutal drought

Statistics show about 72% of the province's towns rely on groundwater, 26% on surface water and 2% on a mixture of both.

Vass said the province historically had financial shortages, adding another challenge was access to decent water and sanitation services.

Figures show 10 727 households in formal areas have no access to water, while 34 464 have no access to sanitation.

More than 10 000 households in informal areas have no access to water, and 18 914 have access to sanitation.

In December, News24 reported Agri-Northern Cape (Agri-NC) estimated about R688 million needed to be raised for drought aid in the province.

Worst-hit province 

The province is one of the worst hit by an ongoing drought which has led to the death of thousands of head of livestock - the primary source of income in the area. 

According to Agri-NC, the widespread drought had already reduced livestock in the province by as much as 50%, with more than 100 000 farms feeling the pinch. 

As from 2010, however, the province has only had seven years of drought in the dry season and only three years of the wet. This was then followed by another seven years of drought until to date. 

Vass said the department was also focusing on housing challenges.

"We are sitting with challenges of human settlements, where the [issue] was raised that we are not spending enough.

"We are putting efforts in place to service our people. We start with service sites and then we focus on the top structures," he added.

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