Our country has one of the most progressive water rights-related policy frameworks in the world, with the Constitution of South Africa stating that everybody has the right to clean water. In 2010 the UN General Assembly declared that “safe and drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights”.
One only realizes the necessity of what is far too often taken for granted once your taps have been empty for days on end.
It is now time to focus on the long term sustainability of water in Madibeng. Madibeng, ironically, loosely translated means “Place of water”. Many communities in the greater Madibeng municipality still do not have an adequate water supply and in the squatter camps around Hartbeespoort running water is seen as a luxury.
There is seemingly no quick solution to the deteriorating state of adequate service delivery of many municipalities in the country, including all of those in the North West province.
Many academics and futurists predict that water will become a very scarce commodity within the next 20 years. In many countries it is compulsory for citizens to harvest rainwater and re-use grey water. This will soon become our only alternative as well.
Our constitution, apart from the right to clean water, also guarantees us the right to a clean, healthy and safe environment. This is very idealistic on paper but often unsustainable in reality. We can’t rely on the authorities to protect our constitutional right. We have to do it ourselves.
(One of the inscriptions on the arch on the Hartbeespoort Dam wall – Sine aqua arida ac miseraagricultura = Without water agriculture is withered and wretched)
29 March 2012