13 February 2019

South Africa: While Electricity Hogs Headlines, South Africa's Water Situation Is Another Unfolding Crisis

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(file photo)
analysis

South Africans may have enough on their plates at the moment in terms of the ongoing inability of Eskom to fulfil the country's daily energy needs. But experts warn that the country's water situation is rapidly heading in the same disastrous direction -- as recent events in Beaufort West and Makhanda have starkly illustrated.

"There were jubilant shouts of 'amanzi' (water), with faces beaming in disbelief as people ran towards our trucks entering Grahamstown. Nine days of no water, nine days of desperation. The crowds, including many university students, gathered outside the municipality eagerly awaiting whatever they could get."

This statement, released by emergency aid group Gift of the Givers on Wednesday, reads like a scene from a post-apocalyptic novel.

Yet its reflection of the situation in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) is essentially "accurate", according to local newspaper Grocott's Mail editor Sue Maclennan.

The spiralling municipal breakdown of Makhanda has left many residents without water for more than a week. Reports have painted a picture of a town in the throes of decay. A widely-shared tweet by DA MP Belinda Bozzoli showed a photograph of a dead donkey on a town pavement, captioned by Bozzoli:

"This once beautiful little university town...

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