Water provision in rural areas and informal settlements

Cloete, T.E and Pootinga, I (2008), Water provision in rural areas and informal settlements and meeting the millennium development goals, in in ASSAF (Academy of Science of South Africa), Local Economic Development in Small Towns, Housing Delivery and Impact on the Environment, Pretoria.

Introduction

Water is unlike other scarce natural resources. It underpins all aspects of society, from ecology to agriculture to industry – and it has no known substitutes. Like oxygen, water is fundamental to life (UNDP, 2006). Water is also an integral part of the production systems that generate wealth and guarantees well-being.

One of the most notable features of South African water resources is the variable availability of surface and groundwater, due to climate and geography. This is associated with socially-constructed water accessibility challenges, where previous government policies ignored that the majority of the population did not have easy access to water. Many areas in the country are facing water shortages, where the demand exceeds the supply. The authors are of the view that rooftop rainwater harvesting (RWH) can play a major role in sustainable water provision for all and improve the livelihoods of millions of people who do not have easy access to water for drinking, cooking or any other purpose. RWH is thus considered one of the alternative water resources that may enable South Africa to meet the goals set by the government, and to ensure people’s well being. It involves the small-scale collection, capture and storage of rainwater runoff for different productive purposes, including irrigation, drinking and domestic use.

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