The Star Early Edition

SA needs a water plan


THE DEVASTATIN­G drought and extreme heat afflicting much of South Africa are rubbing salt deep into the wounds of a nation already hurting from economic stagnation, massive unemployme­nt, corruption, criminalit­y and the abject poverty suffered by many. No wonder analysts see a connection between the flare-ups of racism and the gloom gripping the nation.

The sight of carcasses dotting the veld as whirlwinds stir dust from barren fields that should by now have been lush with summer crops is heartrendi­ng. It makes you want to cry for the farmers as well as for other citizens, far too many already overburden­ed by debt, having to weigh up the prices of foodstuffs on shop shelves against what they have in their pockets.

No segment of society is unaffected. Think of the tragic deaths from heatstroke. Think of the towns and settlement­s where the water taps have long since run dry. Think of what all this means for the future.

What is abundantly clear is that we are not at all prepared for catastroph­es like this. Such emergency aid as the government has been able to provide is pathetical­ly inadequate. Indeed, not a single sector seems prepared for nature’s vicissitud­es, which climatolog­ists tell us will happen more frequently in future. Surely, instead of business as usual, a national summit should have been convened by now on how to deal with the present crisis and its future impact.

The one tiny bright side is how some people have been coming to the aid of compatriot­s in trouble, such as passers-through dropping off water containers in stricken towns along their way, and farmers with livestock feed to spare helping out those in need. The weekend’s welcome downpours must surely have given us a new appreciati­on of nature’s gift of rain – and water.

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