Drought In SA Forces Residents To Resort To Dirty Streams For Water


Areas of Nelspruit’s KaBokweni township have been without water for the past three weeks as the drought drags on. The dryness has forced some of the residents to spend about R1 per litre for portable water or resort to drinking from dirty streams. A lot of the residents resorted to dirty streams due to unemployment.

Residents blame the drought on Illegal water connections, leaks and even theft. This left some of the township’s almost 31,000 residents without water.

“The (main) bulk line has been a subject of a lot of illegal connections in the communities through which it passes,” said Mbombela Local Municipality Spokesperson Joseph Ngala. He added that the municipality also loses a lot of water due to leaking pipelines.

Communities have alleged that some contractors may be extorting money from residents in exchange for providing water for them, he added.

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“Water tinkering is another challenge, as you probably will know of the allegations of water being sold even by service providers contracted to supply Mbombela (with) water,” Ngala said.

Officials from the municipality, provincial department of health and utility and Water agreed to allocate seven water tankers to supply water to the local clinic as well as Themba Hospital hospital,after water shortages affected  them, according to Department of Health Spokesperson Dumisani Malamule. KaBokweni resident Sandiso Mabuza is lucky enough to have a JoJo tank to collect water. He said he did not even know some areas of the township had run dry of water.

Khoza’s family was not as lucky in getting water supply as days into the shortage, the Khozas were relying on water bought from a water truck owner who charged R30 per 20 litres of water. Eventually, the family could no longer afford to buy this expensive water and they resorted to fetching water from local streams.

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“Now doing simple household chores such as cooking, washing and cleaning is difficult and overwhelming because our water is limited and every drop must be well used,” he said.

Residents said the quality of the water is so bad that it damages electrical appliances such as irons and kettles with its corrosive effect. But they are devising means of purifying it.

Ngala pointed out that, the municipality is upgrading its water treatment plants to deal with increasing demand for water in the area. Expected to be completed within the next five years, renovations are expected to allow plants to supply an additional 20 megalitres of water to communities daily.

The municipality is also embarking on a campaign to urge residents to save water because there is no end yet in sight for the drought in SA..

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