SABC News - Govt working to ease drought in W Cape:Tuesday 30 May 2017

Govt working to ease drought in W Cape

Tuesday 30 May 2017 20:39

Angela Bolowana

The Department of Water Affairs will be digging bore holes as part of addressing drought.

The Department of Water Affairs will be digging bore holes as part of addressing drought. (SABC)

The Water and Sanitation Department is engaged in efforts to help ease the severe drought in the Western Cape.  This a the province experiences one of the worst droughts in decades. The issue came up during discussion at a High Level Panel meeting on Water in Boksburg on Gauteng's East rand.  

The recent drought in Gauteng and now in the Western Cape has made South Africans water conscious. With the spotlight now on the Western Cape, South Africa is considering a host of options to help ease a situation that has now reached crisis proportions.

“ Nationally the situation is not bleak because we are talking of 72.4% per cent that is the national average of the dams countrywide the problem is the Western Cape there we are talking now 18% where it is way below the national average,” says Water Affairs Department's Director General Dan Mashitisho.

The department will be digging bore holes and cleaning sea water to make it drinkable.  It became clear however during a panel discussion that the Western Cape is not the only area in trouble and that there is a need for urgency.

“Cape Town looks like it is another country, it doesn't look like South Africa yet a few years ago it had the highest rainfall in the continent because it had winter and summer rains. I was a minister in Mongolia and I took to the cabinet a decree to increase water royalties, it is not about paying the water,  it was about royalty. It's about if you are there you want water,  you want to use water. If you are there in the countryside and the water is next to you the idea is you just take it. I said we must increase royalties three to six times, we need to organise our systems so that local storage and capture is a reality. This is the kind of thing we should look into where we will remember that one time in the past we actually used high quality portable water to flush our toilets,”  says Mashitisho.

The panel comprised representatives from several African and other countries, the Global Water Partnership, World Bank and the United Nations. During a debate on how to price and value water two arguments were put forward.  There were some who say while there is a need to value water there is a danger of making it an exclusive commodity.

Others are saying that there will not be an appreciation of water until it is valued and financial ministers brought into the discourse.

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