INEQUITABLE WATER DISTRIBUTION IN SOUTH AFRICA 5
Inequitable Water Distribution in South Africa
Inequitable Water Distribution in South Africa
In South Africa, there is evidently a big inequitable distribution of water to citizens and organizations depending on socioeconomic levels and especially race. According to Govender (2016), the income gap in South Africa is high but unjust distribution of water among the citizens is higher. The racial discrimination is still rampant, with the majority of the black population evidently less economically privileged as a result of the continuation of apartheid. The International Water Management Institute researched and realized that between 70%-90% of the country’s water is used by only 10% of large water consumers (Govender, 2016). Furthermore, 90% of the country’s total agricultural water is used by slightly more than 1% of large-scale rural commercial farmers (Govender, 2016). The government is in the spotlight because instead of regulating large-scale water users, it decreed that small-scale food producers should have water licenses and they are charged highly (Rodina, 2016). The South African Government is responsible for water distribution inequity because it’s [policies and actions only favors White settlers at the expense of marginalized Blacks that make up majority of the population.
Exploitation of the Poor in Favor of the Rich
The South African government’s incompetence with regards to fair water distribution is a big impediment to the realization of the 60% distribution of water licenses to Black Africans by the year 2024, which the National Water Act stipulates (Govender, 2016). The government’s favoritism against Blacks also go against South Africa’s constitutional provision of citizen’s access to enough water, and the 2001 Free Basic Water guidelines that constitutionally guarantees all citizen’s right of access to clean water (Rodina, 2016). There is also a clear lack of transparency by the government when it published in 2001 census that 96.6% of households could access clean water within a radius of 200 meters while 87% of households could access clean water in their homes, a report that researchers have proved exaggerated by about 60% (Rodina, 2016). This is evidenced by frequent demonstrations by South Africans who are discontented with the sanitation services, which they feel are inadequate, and there is scarcity of water that is being experienced especially in townships (Rodina, 2016).
South Africans, mostly from marginalized Black populations have borne the brunt of inadequate water supply and low quality water. For instance, marginalized Blacks in towns such as Khayelitsha and other rural areas are experiencing water scarcity, which has led to a myriad of problems. The affected populations are living in poor sanitation settings that make them prone to hygiene issues such as blockages in toilet drainage systems and diseases that include but not limited to dysentery and bilharzia due to water shortage and use of contaminated water (Prüss‐Ustün et al., 2014). Furthermore, poor small-scale farmers have limited access to water for irrigation. The worst part is that industrial affluence from the favored few is the source of contamination that pollutes water used by the marginalized (Adeniji, Okoh & Okoh, 2017). This indicates that the government is working in favor of the rich, especially White settlers, and that the justice system in South Africa only favors the rich at the expense of the poor.
Although South Africa is one of the most economically rich countries in Africa, there are many issues of fundamental human rights abuse with regards to equitable water distribution among the rich and the poor. The government favors the rich in terms of provision and accessibility to water, and denies the poor the same right. The unfair water distribution has contributed to too many problems such as poor drainage systems and disease outbreaks.
Adeniji, A. O., Okoh, O. O., & Okoh, A. I. (2017). Petroleum hydrocarbon fingerprints of water and sediment samples of Buffalo River estuary in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Journal of analytical methods in chemistry, 2017, 58-66.
Govender, V. (2016). Calling for water justice in South Africa. News24. Retrieved from https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/Stanger-Weekly/calling-for-water-justice- in-south-africa-20160322
Prüss‐Ustün, A., Bartram, J., Clasen, T., Colford Jr, J. M., Cumming, O., Curtis, V., … &Freeman, M. C. (2014). Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low‐and middle‐income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 19(8), 894-905.
Rodina, L. (2016). Human right to water in Khayelitsha, South Africa–lessons from a ‘lived experiences’ perspective. Geoforum, 72, 58-66.