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EDITORIAL: A sudden water crisis years in the making

We live in a water-scarce country. SA receives mean annual rainfall of about 500mm a year, almost 50% less than the global average of 860mm a year. The country is also prone to drought and things are likely to get worse as the effects of climate change and global warming start to become more apparent.

The government, almost certainly, is not to blame when it does not rain. But a lot of the water shortages experienced at household level in SA can most definitely be blamed on the dearth of service delivery and the general inability to maintain and build infrastructure by all spheres of government.

Water restrictions now being implemented in metros across the powerhouse-without-power province of Gauteng provide a good illustration of this conundrum — showing that the water crisis is not really a water crisis, but rather a governance crisis. Similar to the energy and transport crises.

SA’s bulk water infrastructure, much like electricity, rail and roads, has been poorly maintained and investment in new build has been too low and too slow to keep up with the rate of population growth and urbanisation, let alone meaningful economic growth.


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