South Africa: Protecting Water Means Protecting Women


South Africa is a water-scarce country, and in rural areas, women bear the brunt of water collection and provision. Many of those communities are affected by mining, which is not only heavily extractive, but also a major polluter of scarce water resources.

Water is a burning issue in South Africa, a country ranked as the 30th-most water-scarce country in the world. According to Amnesty International, one in three South Africans lacks access to safe or reliable drinking water. Parts of the country have not yet recovered from debilitating drought. It is predicted that by 2030, South Africa will have a 17% deficit between water supply and demand. With global warming, all of that is set to intensify as dry areas get drier.

Our water woes are worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, where the most important prevention measure for the spread of the virus is to "wash your hands". The pandemic has exposed the large number of communities in South Africa deprived of this fundamental right of access to water as enshrined in section 27 of the Constitution and cannot practice this basic precaution. In addition, it has brought to the forefront the undue burden placed on women as a result...

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