South Africa’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, has given a briefing about the state of the country’s water security. Prolonged lower-than-normal rainfall has led to drought conditions across the country. Rainfall recorded by the Department of Water and Sanitation during September to the middle of October 2015, has revealed that early spring has not yielded the anticipated rainfall and has led to worsening drought conditions in some areas.

Drought disaster has been declared in only two of the nine provinces – KwaZulu Natal and Free State provinces. In KwaZulu Natal, the average dam storage of large schemes is 69% with three of eighteen schemes below 50% of full supply capacity. The drought is currently affecting 173 of the 1628 water supply schemes nationally, serving approximately 2.7M households or 18% of the national population.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has committed R352.6M to initial drought intervention projects and a further R96.620M to interim measures and additional interventions in Kwazulu-Natal.

Work to deliver bulk infrastructure continues and it is expected that the Tugela Bulk Water Supply Scheme will become active in June 2016, and should alleviate some of the water pressures in the Northern parts of Kwazulu-Natal. More than half a billion rand is also being invested in raising Hazelmere Dam which is now underway.

"I am on record as stating that South Africa is the 30th driest country in the world and as such, we are not a country endowed with abundant water resources," Minister Mokonyane commented. "The government is drawing water from Lesotho to augment our own resources for the benefit of our country and mainly, our economic hub Gauteng. Engagements are underway to allow us to access water from the Zambezi via Zimbabwe to further guarantee supply in the northern parts of the country."