This year, South Africa observed World Week under the ominous cloud of the Cape Town water crisis, and the stark reality of long-term water scarcity in South Africa and beyond. However, 10 other cities worldwide are facing severe water shortage unless they diversify supply sources and use water judiciously while another 200 are running out of water. This is according to Down To Earth, the magazine by India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Apart from Cape Town which facing dry taps by July 2018, others facing devastating water shortages are: Bengaluru, in India; Beijing, China; Mexico City, Mexico; Sanaa, Yemen; Nairobi, Kenya; Istanbul, Turkey; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Karachi, Pakistan; Buenos Aires, Argentina and Kabul, Afghanistan.
But currently national and global spotlight is confined to Cape Town. The city is at the heart of all conversations in South Africa. There are crucial issues linked to sustainable water management, government’s role in the securing access of clean water for all citizens, and the future face with alarming rates of drought and other weather extremes around the world.
World Water Day Falls on March 22 and according to Greenpeace Africa’s senior climate and energy campaign manager, Melita Steele, “millions of South Africans live with Day Zero every day, because water scarcity is a massive problem, and it is not going to go away.The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realisation of other rights.”
“The days of mega water users like Eskom and coal mines having unlimited access to water at the expense of the people of South Africa must be over and we must defend our right to water at all costs,” Melita said.
“ Our Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation has collapsed and demand will exceed supply finally and the government must put water at the centre of decision making prioritising water for people over business and profits.”
According to the South African Human Rights Commission there has been an increase in complaints relating to the right to water between 2012 and 2016, which is tied to insufficient or lack of basic service delivery. This is likely to worsen unless people’s right to water is protected and put first. Water is a basic human right.