By Benny Mojela
Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa states that “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water.” This places a legal obligation on the government of South Africa to provide water for its citizens. Yet the residents of Alicedale have been struggling with water for a long time. Water is usually available three times a week, but residents say there hasn’t been water for a month.
Khayalethu Nyamakazi, a community activist in Alicedale, told Grocott’s Mail there are seven JoJo tanks in KwaNonzwakazi township, and three tanks in Trans-rivière. Each holds 5000 litres of water – a total of 50 000 litres. But there are only two 10 000 litre trucks that supply a total of 20 000 litres of water to the tanks. This is challenging for the residents because they have to wait for hours for the trucks, and when the trucks arrive, they can only supply a few of the JoJo tanks, not all 10 tanks. Added to this is the problem that the community had to arrange independently for the JoJo tanks to be installed. Nyamakazi said, “We don’t have a tank problem but a water supply.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise”. But in Alicedale, a single household gets approximately 60 litres of water from the JoJo tanks – not every day, and sometimes only twice a week. This is not nearly enough for all daily activities like washing clothes, bathing, and cooking.
Some residents are now unable to use their toilets. Resident Zanemvula Ntoyanto said, “Personally, it has affected me in the toilet because now I have to remove the whole seat because it is dirty. I cannot refurbish it and do anything about it. I’ll have to buy another system.”
The short water supply is causing strife in the community because people have to stand in long queues. Nyamakazi said, “This is really causing havoc. People are fighting now over this water that is not sufficient.”
The current problem allegedly results from a pump that was vandalised because it was not secured. Limise Vayo, a resident of Alicedale, said, “We have a pump problem at our dam” adding that people have had to resort to drawing water directly out of the dam. She fears that children fetching water from the dams may fall in – something the residents have a “big problem” with, Vayo says.
The people of Alicedale have been struggling with water for a long time, and as a result, have developed good relationships with borehole owners nearby who supply them with water. Ntoyanto mentioned that they have received water from a borehole owned by Barry Batchelor, who is a farmer in Alicedale, and Jan Nel, who is a game reserve owner.
Finally, the residents of Alicedale think that a security guard should be appointed to take care of the water pump facility since it’s expensive.