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.