Fourteen civil society organisations, including Masifundise, hosted a media briefing on 17 September to highlight the water crisis in parts of the country, especially the Eastern Cape.
People in water scarce communities are forced to drink contaminated water while others have to walk as far as 2km to access clean water.
Through a media briefing engagement, the 14 organisations sought to strengthen the voices of rural water stressed communities as well as hold government accountable for their lack of water service delivery.
Water access in rural areas has proved to be a major challenge. Many water scarce communities, without access to clean water in their homes, have been forced to meet their water needs through contaminated rivers and lakes, depleting boreholes, and inconsistent water deliveries from local government.
The remote nature of rural villages creates an added burden to water collection, with communities having to walk as far as 2km to fetch clean water. Women are particularly vulnerable and are forced to collect water in groups in order avoid gender-based crimes.
The rural community of Centane has been without a consistent water source since 2017. Many of the community members rely on social grants for survival and simply cannot afford the purchase of personal water tanks. The dire water shortages have left communities especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Harvey Ntshoko, a Coastal Links member detailed the hardships faced by communities. “We are forced to share water with cattle and other livestock. Sometimes we find carcasses of animals that have died in the water, but because we have no other options, we drink it anyway.”
Since this engagement the Amathole District Municipality began dispatching three water tanks in the Mnquma area to drought stricken areas in Butterworth. Centane is yet to receive any assistance.