South Africa is a water-stressed country. There are many reasons for this, including the change in climate that has an impact on the seasons. This is also the result of the economic activities of the mining industry, commercial agriculture, the extermination of natural trees and plants among reasons which also has an impact on the water sources.
Access to water must be respected, promoted and fulfilled by the state. Access to safe and sufficient fresh water is a fundamental requirement for the survival, well-being and socio-economic development of all humankind, yet the government continues to act as if fresh water is an eternal resource. “Well, it’s not,” says Joseph Waiza, one of the frustrated up-and-coming farmers in Paballelo.
The Orange River that originates from the Drakensberg flows from Lesotho through Upington to Port Nollorth in the Atlantic Ocean. But the small-scale farmers in Upington struggle with water on the various commonage lands in and around Upington. The Dawid Kruiper Local Government does not care to meet the needs of the small-scale farmers despite several discussions with the officials of the municipality about the crisis. During the summer seasons, the fields catch fire and then it is a loss for the small-scale farmers.
“Carrying 25 litre jugs to communal grounds is nothing compared to the powerlessness when the tap’s water runs out. Just last week a fire broke out near the Rosedale camp where animals were grazing. Powerless farmers had to take the last water in 25 litre jugs to put out the fire. If every farmer has a water tank today, then we don’t have to worry about the immediate future. We can’t delay any longer. We cannot allow communal lands to be without water tanks,” adds Waiza.
“The biggest problem is usable water,” says Miss Nellie Swartz, single parent of three children. “Due to a lack of water, my two-year-old daughter drank paraffin because she thought it was water!”
No one understands water scarcity as well as farmers. Farmers must therefore do everything in their power to obtain enough water for their livestock and crops. “No man or animal can survive or live without water. The water crisis destroys your humanity,” says Mr. Passion. He adds, “some farmers put their shoulders to the wheel and try every day to find a solution and others completely lose heart!”
Aaron Ranayeke, who supports the Inyanda National Land Movement through the Movement Building Stream of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TOCE), then sent an email to the Mayor and the Speaker of Council and called for the farmers and Inyanda to come and address the council about the water problems on the common land.
Following the written letter to Council by Ranayeke, the ongoing water shortage in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality was still not properly resolved.
“I am writing on behalf of the small-scale livestock farmers at the Hondejaag common land, both the Paballeo and Rosedale side of the common land. We are all aware of the water crisis and the multiple reasons which has caused this crisis. The recent crisis is exacerbated by the load shedding. The farmers are trying to deal with the situation but it is very difficult for them.
The farmers request the Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality assist them with supplying water for their livestock on the Hondejaag common land. It would be of great help to the municipality to send in water tanks at least three times a week, then the farmers will be ready at each kraal with containers to fill water for their livestock. We hope the plea of the small-scale farmers reaches your favourable consideration to prevent livestock from dying due to water shortages.”
“Let’s stand together. The only solution now for farmers on communal land is water tanks. We have to start putting water tanks on it immediately. This is the only answer. If we wait for the government to build dams, we are going to have to wait a very long time,” concludes Waiza.