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COVID-19: Water scarcity, access still major issue in rural SA

The need for access to clean water has been spurred on by the spread of COVID-19 that can be prevented through cleanliness, placing water at the centre of any such intervention.

FILE: The last time some rural communities in the country have had running water on their taps is five years ago. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – While in the face of the battle against the COVID-19, rural communities fare greater chances of survival than most settlements in the country – water scarcity remains a real threat.

At the onset of the crisis, government promised to deliver tanks of water to water-starved communities across the country, and it appears while it has kept the promise in some areas – others remain dry.

The need for access to clean water has been spurred on by the spread of COVID-19 that can be prevented through cleanliness, placing water at the centre of any such intervention.

This week Eyewitness News is casting a spotlight on how rural communities are responding to COVID-19.

The last time some rural communities in the country have had running water on their taps is five years ago. And in the place of that service, municipalities have resorted to delivering water through tankers on trucks.

Many people like resident of Malerato in the North West, Robert Msimang, are aware of the need for water to lessen their chances of contracting COVID-19 but say the government had not been consistent in keeping its promise to deliver water during this crisis.

“The only problem is water because sometimes we are forced to buy it and sometimes the trucks come and deliver for free.”

Even rural dwellers who have access to piped water still struggle for reliable supply as Winterveldt resident Rose Maleka explains.

“We have piped water. But they close it every two days and open it on the third and so it goes. We store it in drums.”

South Africa’s water shortage struggles have compromised the quality of life for many of its citizens for years, but the COVID-19 crisis has made it an even greater need.

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