South Africa is one of the 30th driest countries in the world. The recent drought in the Western Cape, where Cape Town almost reached day zero has highlighted the country’s plight for water.
The drought has been going for many years, affecting some regions harder than others. The worst hit regions are Kwa Zulu -Natal, The Free state, Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape. Farmers in these areas have had major losses which in one year can total R10 billion. This has led to a decrease in maize production and because of this food prices have increased. Due to the decrease in production South Africa would need to import enough maize to feed its livestock. This can cost farmers millions in extra costs. This will not only affect farmers, although they are amongst the hardest hit, but migrant workers are also affected. Without work they do not get paid, this leads to higher crime rates in areas as people become more desperate. Productivity is also seriously jeopardized in drought areas as people queue for many hours to get water. This results in less work being done.
Health can also be greatly affected. Without water there cannot be proper hygiene. Health services have warned against Listeriosis outbreaks, such as was recently seen in Gauteng. To assist with the drought there are many ways of saving water:
- Limit your shower to one and half minutes and ensure that you put the plug in when showering so that this water can be used for watering the garden and flushing toilets afterwards. A brick can be added to the cistern of your toilet. This will result in less water being used to flush. Only flush your toilet after every second use.
- Use a cup to rinse your teeth instead of running the tap when brushing them.
- Fix leaking taps as soon as you find them. You can potentially waste up to 20000 liters of water a year. This is enough water to fill up a small swimming pool.
- Only wash clothes when you have enough to fill a washing machine and have the pipe from the washing machine run into your garden. This will reduce the need to water your garden.
- Wash your dishes in a dishwasher, but make sure that it is full. Even better is to use paper plates. These won’t need to be washed and will result in the dishwasher being used less.
- Plant garden plants that are water wise, in other words need less water for example succulents.
- Wash your cars with a bucket instead of a hose and then recycle the water into your garden or toilet.
- Put a pool cover on your swimming pool as such a big surface evaporates quickly. A cover will prevent this from happening as well as keeping your pool cleaner.
In conclusion the water shortage is South Africa is dire. Water is critical to life and as the population grows the crisis becomes worse. Children need to be educated on how to conserve water so that going forward this becomes a natural occurrence. If everyone does their part in the end this can be handled, and less people and animals will need to suffer.