As I started typing “drought in South Africa” into Google, I became overwhelmed with all the news stories circulating around this pressing scenario. All the sites are reporting about the drastic water shortages faced across the country, and I have to acknowledge I am quite sheltered living in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, as we have at least had consistent water supply.
The effects of the drought are still being felt across the country. Food prices are expected to increase again in August 2016. Suggestions have been made by AgriSA to the government to lift the food import restrictions and to fund farmers through the Land Bank. However, the month of August is also when all the farmer’s loans are due. So far South African goodwill has raised R10 million for commercial and emerging farmers, but attention is being turned to the farm labourers, who are also vulnerable to the drought conditions (Daily Maverick).
“The drought is not the story of the farmers, either emerging or commercial. It’s about farm workers, the total rural population,” AgriSA president Johannes Möller.
It rained, what now?
Although we have experienced rainfall throughout the country this past week, it appears to not have made much of a dent in South Africa’s drought situation, according to Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder (News24). These are the dam level statistics from Kwazulu-Natal, the province that seems to pop up as the drought hotspot:
- Nagle Dam: 54,2 mm
- Inanda Dam: 57,0 mm
- Albert Falls Dam: 49,2 mm
- Hazelmere Dam: 42,5 mm
The level of Nagle Dam was at 65,10% yesterday, unchanged from Friday. Albert Falls Dam was at 27,58% yesterday, up from 27% on Friday. The level of Inanda Dam remained unchanged at 68%, while Hazelmere Dam dropped by 0,27% and stands at 42,73% (information taken from News24)
This video shows aerial footage of the Hazelmere Dam in Kwazulu-Natal (the Greytown catchment) on November 07 2015, and compares it to the normal dam levels at that time of year:
This video was taken from Drought SA.
African Water Week
The sixth African Water Week conference (AWW6) took place between 18-22 July in Tanzania to discuss ‘achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water security and sanitation’ (AllAfrica). The statistics are frightening: according to Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, over 800 millions people lack access to safe drinking water, and 40% of them live in Africa. And although the Millennium Development Goals helped 322 million Africans gain access to clean drinking water, the continent is challenged through a rapid population growth and a boom in economic activities.
Some good news…
Kiara Nirghin, a 16 year old girl from Johannesburg, has won the regional award for Middle East and Africa in the Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award for finding a way to combat drought (VenturesSA).
The project is called ‘No More Thirsty Crops’ and uses orange and avocado peels to create a super absorbent polymer (SAP) that acts as a reservoir in the earth. The SAP will hold 300x more liquid than its own weight “keeping crops hydrated for longer at a much lower cost.”
-story by Hadassah Egbedi in VenturesSA.