Townships face a looming water disaster
By Pamela Mashego
Thaba Chweu townships, Leroro, Matibidi, Lydenburg and others face a number of challenges with multiple challenges adversely affecting schools, small business owners and households. Water has by far been the biggest challenge of them all, and therefore townships have been urged to use water sparingly. Water has always been a major problem in these communities but the past year has been the worst. And this is what residents have described as a looming water disaster.
“Our water supply has always been cut short; it is something that we became used to. However, for the past year this whole place has been dry as dust, and water being a basic need in our households, our lives have been more difficult since” says Tumelo Shai who is a builder and uses water on a dailybasis as part of his job. He makes a living out of building houses, therefore “no water, no penny earned” he says. Concerned members of the community say it is highly disappointing to experience these kinds of problems during the busiest season of the year. Residents furthermore report that it has been not easy for school children to go to school if there is no water. Moreover, they have to walk long distances pushing wheelbarrows to fetch water from rivers or water tankers which only deliver water once a week.Although most residents complain that getting water from the river may lead to deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, diarrhea and others,health is the least of their worries because water is a basic need of every household.
School teachers say; these water restrictions have had both negative and positive impact in schools. One of the positive impacts being that they are now teaching pupils on the importance of water, water scarcity and how to use water both effectively and sparingly. However, the same cannot be said for small business owners like Shai who depend on water as a primary resource and also as a basic need to make ends meet daily.
However the Thaba Chweu municipality reckons this is a nationwide issue, Thaba Chweu municipality is not the only one affected. It is said that the municipality’s water table is running low due to the hot weather conditions which has led the whole country into a stranglehold. The municipality has since released a water tanker to deliver water at least once a week to the affected areas.
This municipality has a population of 98 387 people, over 33 350 households, and a little over 20% of these households are informal settlements while the rest of the percentage is formal. According to Census data from statistics SA 2011 this municipality’s 71.5% residents get water from a regional or local service provider while 7% from the river and 12% from a borehole. With these numbers increasing daily, there will be a shortage of resources in the next years.
In the meantime, the municipality urges members of communities to use water sparingly and responsibly. “All practical ways of minimizing water usage will be quite essential for us to navigate through this difficult period”, reported the municipality.