This is why we celebrate World Plumbing Day…
Over the past two weeks, especially after the death of four protestors over water shortages in the North West, the country has started talking about water much more seriously. As a result, Eyewitness News decided to conduct an investigation into the water conditions South Africans are forced to live with. This is what they found:
• In Mpumalanga, in areas like Emalahleni, people are putting water through a chemical process to clean it. They are then making fortunes selling it to people who have no other access to clean drinking water.
• Someone has reported foul-smelling, foul-tasting water, sometimes with black debris floating in it.
• Another person says he has been buying drinking water for four years because, while the water in his area is adequate for washing, it’s not adequate for drinking.
• People in Shoshanguve are making their own taps and running their own illegal water connections in order to ensure they have water to drink.
• Another person says he forgoes sleep so that he can spend the night standing in queues, waiting for a chance to use the tap.
• Others have constant diarrhoea and rashes as a result of the water they’re forced to use.
According to Emalahleni Administrator, Theo van Vuuren, these water problems have occurred as a result of the infrastructure not being properly maintained or expanded to accommodate a growing population. Deputy Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission, Dr Pregs Govender, believes that while there is money and a will to ensure water is available and drinkable, there is a breakdown in the overseeing capacity of government at provincial and national levels. Govender also makes mention of the bulk water purchased by businesses at a reduced rate which is then wasted and polluted.
While, over the past twenty years, government has doubled the number of households that have access to running water, since 2005, less and less people have been reporting that their water is of an adequate standard.
Eyewitness News found that there is an overwhelming consensus that South Africa is facing a water emergency, and that it’s the poor who suffer the most.
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