An es­say on drought

go! Platteland - - EDS’ LETTER -

At one time or an­other in school, we all got that com­po­si­tion exam pa­per with a list of es­say top­ics, and there, right at the top, it would be (again): Drought. Did any­one ever choose to write about that topic?

Our par­ents and grand­par­ents had it even worse: in their day they had no choice. It was drought… or fail.

Yes, in the old days drought lay deep in the na­tion’s psy­che, cre­at­ing a buzz al­most like a Twit­ter war to­day.

Iron­i­cally, South Africans now seem more re­signed about news of drought con­di­tions, even while the coun­try finds it­self amid the worst drought in years. You hear even in­formed peo­ple who de­clare af­ter the first rain shower: “The drought is over.” Or, worse: “The drought is old news.” This while farm­ers have not sown and we have to im­port in­stead of ex­port maize. This de­spite en­tire vil­lages not hav­ing a drop of wa­ter and emer­gency sup­plies hav­ing to be trucked in daily.

Here in the Cape we nowa­days don’t even mind the no­to­ri­ous south­east­erly wind, be­cause it might bring rain to the north of the coun­try where it is so des­per­ately needed. (On the day we sent this is­sue to the print­ers we heard that the West Coast re­gion has also been de­clared a drought disas­ter area.)

It might be­tray our age, but if you browse through this is­sue of Plat­te­land you’ll no­tice that the is­sue of drought crops up in a num­ber of places. There is, among oth­ers, Elise Tem­pel­hoff’s “Think­ing out loud” col­umn on page 15, the ar­ti­cle about Win­ter­ton (page 20) and the one on Vre­de­fort Dome (page 36). It wasn’t planned; it is per­haps be­cause one hears al­most daily that Africa – and yes, South Africa too – will only have it worse in fu­ture.

One ray of light is the story about ­sci­en­tist Jill Far­rant and her re­search into res­ur­rec­tion plants, which seem­ingly die in times of drought but then re­vive af­ter the first rain. Read her ­fas­ci­nat­ing story on page 62 – and let ­us know what you think about it.

Here at Plat­te­land we don’t like to see plants wilt or die be­cause of drought, and we’ll never stop look­ing for ideas to save wa­ter and, most im­por­tant­ly, to use it re­spon­si­bly. We all have a duty to do this.

As long as we do not have to write an es­say on drought again any time soon.

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