As experts warn of a looming water crisis a conservation group is now offering free online training to communities about ways of preserving rain water writes Masoka Dube

Mpumalanga resident Vusi Mkhabela was always in trouble with his neighbours who accused him of misusing water which he used to irrigate his farming project.

“It was difficult for me because community members were not happy. They used to accuse me of misusing water. Since I built my underground water reservoir I have peace of mind,” Mkhabela told Mukurukuru Media recently.

He is one of the community members who completed a water harvesting training course in Mpumalanga three years ago.

The rain water harvesting training was organised by the Amanzi for Food Programme, a water conservation advocacy group. The initiative aims to teach residents to deal with the shortage of water and other related problems in South Africa’s rural areas.

Amanzi for Food Programme recently announced that it had launched a free online training programme to teach communities about ways of preserving rain water effectively.

The implementation of the online part of the programme is in line with the World Water Day commemoration, which is aimed at creating awareness about the importance of using water sparingly and responsibly. The World Water Day is being celebrated annually on March 22.

“After the workshop I started to make sure that I preserve water using the skill that I acquired. These kinds of workshops are helpful, especially to small farmers like me, who do not have money to fund their projects,” said Mkhabela.

“Before, I attended the workshop I was only relying on water from the river and the tap to irrigate my garden,” said Mkhabela who has imparted his skills to people in his community of Bushbuckridge.

The Amanzi for Food Programme started in 2018 focusing only on Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape provinces but also spread out to Limpopo and North West.

“Our training includes lessons on how to harvest rain water and safely use it at the communities’ backyard gardens, agricultural projects, and other related things.

“Now we are taking it to the national level that is one the reasons we conduct it online. The training is targeting emerging farmers, community members who own backyard gardens and the public.”

During the training, the attendees will also be taught how to grow their food and also produce food that will be sold within their community.

Those who will graduate from the training they will go and impart what they have acquired to their communities.

Since the entire world is facing water scarcity, projects like these are very helpful because every drop of water is being conserved.

Experts predict that South Africa might face dire water shortages soon if nothing is been done to deal with the problem. The country is one of many countries in the world faced with the water scarcity problem mostly caused by Climate Change and Global warming.

However, other element such as droughts, lack of regular rainfall, pollution and lack of proper infrastructure also contribute to the situation.

The department of water and sanitation (DWS) has warned that South Africa is a water scarce country and named one of the 30 driest countries in the world, with a rapidly increasing population. It also noted that the country’s rainfall is unpredictable and common periods of drought limit the water resources even further. This is also due to the impact of climate change.

According to a recent report by UNESCO the global population has been affected by a water resource decrease of 20-percent than it was 27 years ago.

The agency stated that water insecurity costs the global economy at least 500 billion US dollars annually.

In this trying time in which many countries are trying their best to deal with water scarcity, the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) published by UNESCO (21 March 2021) on behalf of UN-Water cited that failing to understand the value of water is one of the main things that make people to misuse and waste water which contribute to water shortage.

“Water is our most precious resource, a ‘blue gold’ to which more than two billion people do not have direct access. It is not only essential for survival, but also plays a sanitary, social and cultural role at the heart of human societies,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

She said this year’s WWDR focuses on the question of the value of water.

“The devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic remind us of the importance of having access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and highlight that far too many people are still without them. Many of our problems arise because we do not value water highly enough; all too often water is not valued at all.”

Azoulay has called on the world to act immediately to avert the looming water crisis the world is facing in the near future. She says the solution to this can emanate from, “managing water and climate in a more coordinated manner and every sector of society has a role to play.”

According to the United Nation approximately one third of the global population has water scarcity associated problems, while the situation is expected to reach half of the global population in 2025. This means winning the war against this crisis is a race against time.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS)’s 2018 report on water scarcity in South Africa revealed that “many parts of the country remain drought disaster zones, with the hardest hit areas being the Karoo and the west coast.”

The looming water shortages has raised fears that countries could go to war over the precious resource as seen in the cold war between Egypt, Ethopia, Sudan and others fighting for control of the Nile river, which is the longest river in Africa. Countries supplied by the Nile River are Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

The war started in 2011 when Ethiopia started to construct a giant dam that after completion will affect 85% of the river’s water flow. The negotiation concerning the matter is currently underway.

Some of the feuds in which countries fought for water include the one involving Turkey, Syria and Iraq who fought for the ownership of the Euphrates- Tigris River that is shared among the three countries. This is one of the longest water disputes as it started in around 1960 and resolved in 2000.

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