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    Why is South Africa’s waterhole drying up?

    Why is South Africa’s waterhole drying up?


    Everyone knows that the electrical crisis in South Africa is one of the biggest problems that the country has ever faced, however, going without electricity is not impossible. The idea of surviving without water – now that is absurd.

    Unfortunately, water scarcity is becoming a major issue in South Africa, and people are not completely aware of it…


    Why are we facing this environmental disaster?


    • Inequality and aging infrastructure are to blame for the catastrophe that is causing the taps to run dry, according to Dr. Ferrial Adam, Water and Environment Manager for the Community Action Network (WaterCAN). According to a 2021 report by the World Bank, South Africa lost an estimated 41% of its treated water due to leaks and other infrastructure problems. This is one of the highest rates of water loss in the world.
    • Overpopulation. According to the 2018 General Household Survey (GHS) by Statistics South Africa, 89% of households in South Africa have access to clean running tap water. The remaining 11% of households, or about 7 million people, do not have access to clean running tap water. These households typically rely on water from rivers, boreholes, or rainwater collection.
    • A lack of rainfall. According to the South African Weather Service, the country received an average of 526.60 mm of rainfall in 2022, compared to 625.60 mm in 2021. This is a decrease of 14.8%.
    • Corruption in society’s overall development is causing deterring investments, hindering effective water resource management and poor service delivery.


    A spokesman for the government committee, Luvuyo Bangazi described how dire the situation has become:


    “We haven’t had good rains for more than seven years and we’ve had a sharp increase in water consumption from across sectors, be it residential, business, or other. So, compounding that with obviously ailing infrastructure that leads to severe water leaks … almost 25-30% of our water [is] being lost due to water leaks caused by failing infrastructure.”


    There are local crisis response groups that assist locals, but there is only so much that can be done when there are no clean, freshwater sources.


    According to ESI Africa, South Africa will be facing a physical water shortage by 2025, and climate change will make the problem worse by 2030.


    To overcome a drought that has affected the South African region for more than seven years, regulations addressing major reductions in water usage have resulted in overcrowded public water points, risky bore-holing, and the acceptance of contaminated groundwater supplies.


    The effect of this water scarcity crisis brings many risks and consequences for the nation.


    What are the risks involved with a water crisis?

    • Civil unrest and instability: Government water management policies or the quantity and quality of water can cause civil unrest when there is a water shortage.
    • “Black market water”: In Zimbabwe and Kenya, a “black market” for water has formed because of the government’s failure to expand water infrastructure into disadvantaged communities. As these illicit marketplaces for water are unregulated, sellers are free to sell contaminated water and raise the price as they see fit.
    • Violence: The violent clashes between farming communities and herding communities over land are well-known examples of local conflicts. If water supplies are shared across state boundaries, localised violence could spread internationally.
    • Negative impacts on domestic hygiene, public health and a hygienically clean and safe environment.
    • Loss of production of goods, especially agricultural goods, and the loss of work.
    • Increased poverty and inequality.
    • Loss of electricity
    • Famine and diminishing food supply.


    Environmental issues can be combatted if everyone just worked together and took care of the environment.


    How can water scarcity be mitigated?

    • Wastewater management
    • Implement an ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System
    • Recycling of sewage and wastewater
    • Renewable Energy
    • Practice integrated water planning and management
    • Reduce water usage
    • Adequate contingency plans
    • Work completed on maintenance
    • Storage capacities increased
    • New dams should be built
    • Re-laying of ageing pipes
    • Water quality assurance system
    • Seek assistance from the private sector
    • Permanent (quality-assured borehole water) or temporary (water tanks) water supply back-ups


    ISO 14001:2015 is the Standard that assists organisations in developing an Environmental Management System (EMS). An EMS is a systematic approach to establishing and achieving environmental goals.


    Currently, ISO 14001 is used by about 360 000 organisations worldwide to reduce their environmental effect and adapt to changing environmental situations.


    The focus of an EMS is the utilisation of an Environmental Lifecycle Approach where each activity in the organisation’s scope of processes is managed through an identification process of environmental aspects and impacts aligned to a risk methodology.


    The goal of ISO 14001 is to enable companies, whether they are public enterprises or SMME’s, to recognise how its operations affect sustainability and the environment, and to develop a strategy to develop an ever-improving process.


    Contact WWISE today for assistance in becoming ISO 14001:2015 certified! Head Office (086 109 9473) / Cape Town Office (021 525 9159) / send an email to for more info.

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