Despite new water tanks, some South Africans still don't have water

The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign says despite some areas receiving water tankers following the lockdown, many communities still do not have water.
The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign says despite some areas receiving water tankers following the lockdown, many communities still do not have water.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

While close to 20,000 water tanks have been delivered throughout the country, some communities in the Eastern Cape have encountered problems in the provision of water for these tanks.

The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC) said on Tuesday some communities reported that the first and only time they received water was when the tanks arrived in April.

At the start of the lockdown at the end of March, the department of water affairs identified 2,000 communities as water-stressed and requiring immediate attention.

According to the campaign, of the 17,962 tanks that were delivered throughout the country by May 19, 11,978 have been installed and a total of 1,299 tankers (trucks) have so far been delivered to ensure the tanks remain in use.

According to the department, there were 4,492 tanks installed and in use in the Eastern Cape.

"Despite these numbers, there have been some concerning issues with regards to the government’s roll-out in some of these communities in the Eastern Cape," said the campaign.

Some of these communities reported that the first and last day they had water was when the tanks arrived in April - "particularly the communities of Mbizana and Ntabankulu, where the tanks were incorrectly installed".

"In some cases, one tank must serve the needs of 2,000 to 3,000 members of a community."

The SAFSC made these remarks in its third report on water-stressed communities in SA. In its latest report, the campaign said the number of water-stressed communities it has identified has increased from 47 (identified in its last report in April 30) to 79.

The campaign described such communities as those without clean water piped into homes and who were meeting their water needs through polluted rivers, standpipes in informal settlements and rapidly depleting boreholes. They also experienced intermittent water access because of local government mismanagement.

It said there were 57 such communities in the Eastern Cape, as well as 14 in Limpopo, three each in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and one each in the Free State and Gauteng.

"It is apparent from reported information the Eastern Cape and Limpopo communities have been in the grip of drought, mismanagement and corruption that has lasted for years."

In communities the campaign has reported as water-stressed, there has been no change in their situation. "Thus we have not received a response from the minister and [the department] to the two reports submitted.

"Communities are anxious to find out what the [department] is doing to address their concerns. We would appreciate a response to all our water-stressed community reports, including this one, by Friday May 29."


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