Water is a remarkable substance – central to life, it feeds our nations, drives our industry, washes away our troubles, quenches our thirst, and brings beauty and pleasure into our lives.
South Africa is a country that, contrary to belief, does not have an abundant supply of water and could well be described as a semi desert region with a water shortage.
The average rainfall of South Africa is 397mm, compared with a world average of 860mm.
|The distribution of water on the earth|
From the table above, only 0,60% fresh water on earth is available for human consumption and the environment. It will therefore be a wise decision to use this resource efficiently.
Nelson Mandela once said:
“We in South Africa have ourselves faced hard questions and had to make hard choices in this regard. We know that political freedom alone is still not enough if you lack clean water. Freedom alone is not enough without light to read at night, without time or access to water to irrigate your farm, without the ability to catch fish to feed your family. For this reason the struggle for sustainable development nearly equals the struggle for political freedom. They can grow together or they can unravel each other. Threats to our governments in the century ahead will come from poverty, if anything.”
(Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet those of future generations).
To overcome this struggle between sustainable development and political freedom we have a responsibility to use our limited water resources equitably, and in ways that will not reduce their quality and usefulness for future users, or cause harm to the environment.
Factors contributing to a serious water crisis in South Africa are:
- Our increasing human population leads to an increase in water consumption – many of whom who do not have adequate access to water.
- Water loss through a high evaporation rate.
- Siltation of dams.
- An increase in droughts (Maybe a cause of global climate change, due to pollution?)
Situations will change and decisions in strategic matters will need to take our natural resources into consideration. Responsible management is the core of sustainable development.
The question arises whether water consumers in South Africa appreciate its relative scarcity in our country and exercise appropriate responsibility in its use and minimize the negative impacts of our activities.
Source: SAAF Environmental Services by Barbara Schreiner (abbreviated)
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