Child Poverty in South Africa
Situated in the southernmost region of the African continent, poverty plagues South Africa and afflicts around 7 million of its children, accounting for more than 60% of the population. This growing problem owes itself to an increase in low-income families, the urban-rural area divide and decreased access to medical care and necessities of life. But work is slowly being done to turn the tide of this dire situation. In recent years, multidimensional child poverty in South Africa has decreased significantly (by almost 10 percentage points). However, it is possible to do more. Here are three ways to eradicate child poverty in South Africa.

3 Ways to Eradicate Child Poverty in South Africa

  1. Increasing Access to Education: A recent UNICEF study shows that only around one-fifth of children in highly educated households end up in poverty. Consequently, poverty rates would drop significantly if educational support for children increases from a young age. This is especially true of rural areas, where access to education is a very rare commodity. In fact, a lack of proper schooling facilities heavily contributes to 63% of children aged 5-12 living in poverty in rural areas of South Africa. Encouraging children to attend school deters them from joining gangs and buying into other violence which is prevalent in South African cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. To that end, South Africa scored 77.49 on the crime index, ranking as one of the highest in the world. However, as apartheid has left the picture, more than 20% of the South African budget has gone towards the education system, a very high figure among international standards dedicated to ending discriminatory practices in the child learning process.
  2. Spending on Child Service Programs: The latest General Household Survey reflects that only around 17 in 100 South Africans have access to reliable medical insurance. That means that more than 45 million people have little to no connection to basic health care or medical needs, let alone the demographic of children. Expanding spending for universal healthcare for all residents in South Africa would greatly benefit the country’s poor. For example, a 2018 UNICEF study found that an estimated 43,000 children under 5 years of age died in South Africa, of which more than 12,000 were newborns. The majority of these fatalities would be preventable if the government were to enact greater spending on pertinent social issues affecting its youth through special programs, such as the social welfare system that the South African Department of Social Development manages.
  3. Creating New Jobs for Adults: Although this last strategy may sound counterintuitive to assessing the child poverty situation in South Africa, statistics point to the fact that in households where adults remain unemployed, four-fifths of children grow up in substandard living conditions. Moreover, families with one designated breadwinner are more inclined to invest their income into education for their children – an investment that will likely break the cycle of poverty. As of 2020, the 30% unemployment rate in South Africa is contributing significantly to the country’s child poverty situation. Already, the government has worked to increase labor market incomes and expand the need for skill-based jobs to combat this reality through its Youth Employment Service. Since the implementation of this program, poverty in South Africa has been steadily declining.

The data supports that current government intervention in South Africa’s socio-economic situation has shown positive results. Amplifying the effects of these existing constructs to reduce the disparity between rural and urban populations will gradually shape the country into a society that provides equity for all of its youth. These solutions will help ensure that more children in South Africa will live healthy, sustainable lives in years to come.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Billions to Charities
It is no surprise that Forbes named Charles “Chuck” Feeney the James Bond of Philanthropy. After 38 years, Feeney achieved his lifetime goal: giving away all his $8 billion amassed wealth to charity and being alive to see its impact. When someone donates billions to charities, the impact should be substantial.

Charles “Chuck” Feeney

Chuck Feeney amassed his wealth from establishing a franchise of stores within thousands of airports known as the Duty-Free Shoppers Group. He also launched the General Atlantic, an American growth equity firm. Yet, the man, with this immense fortune lives in a rented San Francisco apartment. Moreover, he has even been found riding public transit. Feeney has credited his life philosophy to the Andrew Carnegie essay, “The Gospel of Wealth.” The essay declares that the millionaire’s sole duty is to give back to the poor. As Feeney donates billions to charities, he certainly obliges. Carnegie’s influence is extremely apparent within Feeney’s life. His coined phrase and mantra in life, “Giving While Living,” is essentially saying that you should give all you can to charity now rather than later. This, which closely resembles the messages behind The Gospel of Wealth.

Atlantic Philanthropies

In the early ’80s, the Duty -Free Shoppers franchise was at its peak. This is when Feeney decided to be the one who donates billions to charities. Without anyone’s knowledge, he secretly handed over all his shares and formed his new foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies. Since 1982, the Atlantic Philanthropies has focused on issues of health, social and public policy throughout Australia, Bermuda, Ireland, South Africa, the U.S. and Vietnam. Within these countries, the foundation has addressed many important issues. Among them include facilitating the peace process in Northern Ireland, reducing the number of children without health insurance in the U.S., providing millions with HIV/AIDS medication in South Africa and helping modernize Vietnam’s health care system. While the foundation has officially dissolved recently, Feeney has one last message to relay: “To those wondering about Giving While Living: try it, you’ll like it.”

3 Countries Impacted

  1. South Africa: In the early years after Apartheid, Atlantic Philanthropies saw the opportunity to help advance South African society from its previous suppression. During the ’90s, the foundation assisted young black South African attorneys in getting their law degrees. In the 2000s, Atlantic made funds to advance nursing and health services. By the end of 2016, Atlantic Philanthropies had totaled $442 million in investments toward building democratic institutions and organizations. Overall, the foundation brought 2 million South Africans access to HIV medication. Also, it convinced the government to pledge $1 billion toward school improvements. Finally, it increased the number of nurses between 2005 and 2013 by 44%.
  2. Vietnam: The Atlantic Philanthropies have invested $381.5 million towards improving Vietnam’s public health system and renewing old libraries and universities. With Feeney’s contribution of billions to charities, Vietnam modernized its healthcare system, resulting in 9 million citizens receiving better and improved treatment. Further, the foundation focused on efforts that advocated for healthier behaviors. These included the widespread anti-smoking campaign and the passed mandate that forced motorcyclists to wear helmets. Also, in the education sector, Atlantic Philanthropies improved Vietnamese university libraries.
  3. Cuba: In the early 2000s, Cuba’s healthcare, although seen as one of the best worldwide, was suffering from a lack of resources. This, in turn, sparked the Atlantic’s activism. Overall, the foundation invested $66 million into organizations that work toward improving the care and treatment of Cubans. Moreover, these bodies spread knowledge about Cuba’s effective public health practices in nations with impoverished communities.

An Inspiring Message

Feeney’s extreme display of generosity via contributions of billions to various charities has inspired many notable philanthropists and entrepreneurs to do their part to help the less fortunate. An example of wealthy business moguls following in Feeney’s footsteps is the “Giving Pledge.” Warren Buffet and Bill Gates launched the Giving Pledge in 2010 as a campaign that seeks to persuade wealthy figures across the world to donate close to half of their wealth before they die.

Maya Falach
Photo: Flickr

Regenerative Farming in South Africa
Every year, the world loses 0.3% of its fertile soil due to erosion and mismanagement. On the surface, this may not seem like much, but it means that over the past 100 years, the earth has lost 30% of its fertile soil, and this number will continue to grow, leading to more food insecurity globally. This erosion is due to over-farming land and the increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, around the world, farmers and agricultural departments have begun to practice sustainable farming, a practice where farmers rotate crops to let the soil regain its nutrients while also supplementing it with animal manure instead of chemical fertilizer. As a result, the soil should remain in a natural state so that it is able to be useful for years to come. Here is some information about regenerative farming in South Africa.

Sustainable Farming in South Africa

In South Africa, regenerative farming has become essential to the agricultural model because the country has suffered irregularity in its rainy season, as well as a lack of crops that can actually survive in the region. Farmers began the movement amongst their own community, and it gradually grew to receive national attention. Their model concentrates heavily on planting as many native crops as possible and avoiding non-native crops that require large amounts of water. Other regions of the world tend to choose crops that provide the soil with specific benefits. However, South African farmers learned that rotating native crops that did not necessarily have the same benefits was easier because they required less water.

At the end of 2019, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture began two larger studies; one to examine the feasibility of regenerative farming, and the other to monitor its effects. These studies help to bolster regenerative farming in South Africa and have provided insight into how the process specifically works in South Africa since the climate is arid. So far, many of these studies have concluded that in South Africa, the secrets to regenerative farming are increasing biodiversity, using native crops and using manure from local animal farms.

The Importance of Biodiversity

One study by the Sustainable Food Trust specifically highlighted the importance of maintaining natural biodiversity as a way to ensure sustainable farming. Within the natural South African ecosystem, animals like dung beetles and different species of birds are necessary for the fertilization and pollination process. For many years, farming techniques sought to eliminate “pests” from their fields so they could maximize profit, but without these animals, the soil degrades. On this phenomenon, one farmer said, “My greatest satisfaction has come from wildlife returning to the farm en masse, from dung beetles to sparrow hawks. This has only happened by seeing the farm as part of a wider agro-ecosystem.”

Grounded

In addition to government and scientific studies, other farming organizations have also become involved in regenerative farming, specifically by supplementing farmers with the resources they need to practice sustainability. One of these organizations, Grounded, operates out of the Langkloof region. In addition to providing farmers with resources, Grounded has committed itself to the promotion of ethical production and consumption. On its site, it sells the products that the regional farmers produce, with all of the profits returning to the producers. Grounded’s mission is to provide consumers with ethically sourced products with a known origin, all while practicing sustainability and conservation.

Going forward, many ecologists, farmers and agricultural specialists believe that regenerative farming is the only way to ensure the maintenance of the global food supply. On this, Charles Kellong of the United Nations Department of Agriculture (UNDA) said that “There can be no life without soil and no soil without life, they have evolved together.” As farmers implement regenerative farming practices around the world and adapt these methods to specific climates, like in South Africa, the world will see the fertility of the soil come back, and there will be farmland for generations to come.

– Mary Buffaloe
Photo: Flickr

sanitation during covid-19COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is often spread through airborne droplets released by breathing or talking and by touching infected surfaces. Good hygiene is therefore an initial line of defense in preventing viral infection. However, hand washing requires access to clean water and effective sanitation. While COVID-19 has changed the way people think about hygiene, the lack of access many people in developing countries have to sanitation during COVID-19 remains the same.

Water Crises and Sanitation During COVID-19

More than one half of people around the world do not have access to high-quality sanitation facilities. Furthermore, COVID-19 has exacerbated this already tenuous water and sanitation situation in many parts of the world. Areas with hotspots, like Cairo and Mumbai, are often crowded with restricted public services.

To manage the immediate effects of COVID-19, governments in developing countries have turned to various short-term solutions. For example, Rwanda has installed mobile hand washing stations, while South Africa has begun to use water trucks. The Chilean government has also suspended water and sanitation charges for citizens. In a pandemic, automated water management systems are especially helpful in reducing loss, expanding access and preserving social distancing. In addition to these governmental reforms, many companies have used technology to shore up water and sanitation during COVID-19 in developing countries. Here are five organizations looking to improve sanitation during COVID-19.

Five Companies Improving Water and Sanitation During COVID-19

  1. Wonderkid: This start-up delivers smart solutions to the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The organization supplies water management software to utility companies to help address customer problems, billing, payments and running water meters. Wonderkid’s smart water meters track non-revenue water that does not reach the customer or leaks out of faulty pipes. Thus, Wonderkid allows water utilities to function more effectively and service more people. As of 2018, Wonderkid had expanded to help 36 utility companies in Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi and Liberia.
  2. CityTaps: This organization provides poor families in Niger access to water at a much cheaper price than water vendors. Its smart water meters give water utilities more financial stability. Importantly, they can then expand their services to more poor families. This allows companies to meet the current needs for effective hygiene to fight COVID-19.
  3. Drinkwell: Impoverished people in Dhaka, Bangladesh often rely on illicit or expensive water sources. The social enterprise Drinkwell, a brainchild of American English Fulbright fellow Minjah Chowdury, provides water through ATMs. Drinkwell works with mobile service provider Robi Axiata and Dhaka WASA, a local water utility, to do so. It is also collaborating with Happy Tap, a mobile hygiene provider, to provide hand-washing services to people in Bangladesh.
  4. Sangery: Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) like Sanergy are an up and coming sanitation alternative for people in low-income areas. These systems are simpler and cheaper than sewer systems, but they are also cleaner than latrines and open defecation. CBS systems use a container to capture waste, which then turns into fertilizer. Sanergy uses this technology to resolve the sanitation crisis in Nairobi, Kenya. Run by three M.I.T. students, the company provides Fresh Life Toilets that fit into cramped urban dwellings and empty safely. The ability to have a private toilet is essential in practicing social distancing during the pandemic. During COVID-19, Sanergy has also provided 18 hand-washing stations that allow residents to practice good hygiene.
  5. Mosan: Similar to Sanergy, Mosan is a sanitation project based in Guatemala that provides container-based system toilets to people’s homes. The toilets have a durable, urine-diverting design, which keeps urine and feces in separate containers. They cover feces with dry materials like ash instead of water and eventually recycle them into usable fertilizer material. Such innovations make it more likely that people will stay at home during the pandemic. Additionally, Mosan is providing contactless pickup of containers to encourage people to stay home and social distance.

The Future of Sanitation in Developing Countries

COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in global abilities to provide safe, clean water and sanitation in developing countries. Now, many people lack the water they need to combat the coronavirus. While it is not clear if COVID-19 can spread through human waste, proper sanitation also stops the spread of infectious disease in general.

By shoring up water services and sanitation during COVID-19 in developing countries, governments and other organizations in have provided stop-gap solutions to water and sanitation issues. Technologies like digital water meters, water ATMs, container-based toilets are now saving lives in a new way. Because they help people stay home and keep clean, these solutions allow developing countries to better fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Joseph Maria
Photo: Flickr

ugly foodSome countries are creatively battling hunger and food waste by repurposing and rebranding unappealing produce as “ugly food” in Africa. Two projects in Kenya and South Africa demonstrate an interest in reducing food waste to relieve food insecurity.

The Serious Problem with Food Waste

While hunger remains a pressing issue around the world, nearly one-third of all food that is grown or produced is thrown away before it can reach anyone’s dinner table. On the African continent, nonprofits and governments are confronting food waste as a barrier to relieving widespread hunger. These groups focus on improving data collection, promoting sustainable practices and improving food policy to reduce food waste after production.

Adaptability and innovation are key. The Minister for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development of Zimbabwe, Joseph Made, recently stated, “Obviously, new strategies and approaches are needed to reduce food losses and waste, especially due to the rapidly changing nature of agri-food systems and rapid urbanization.”

A New Approach to Reducing Food Waste

One increasingly popular approach to food waste is encouraging the use of unappealing or “ugly” foods. Ugly foods are fruits, vegetables or other food products that farmers, markets and shoppers reject due to discoloration or misshapenness. While perfectly edible and nutritious, these foods are unmarketable, so markets throw them away. In countries such as the U.S. and France, a growing number of businesses are buying ugly produce from farmers and markets and reselling them to shoppers who want to end excessive food waste.

Nonprofit Work Meets Ugly Food in Africa

In many African countries, nonprofit organizations are finding ways to repurpose unappealing foods to reduce food waste and end hunger. In South Africa, for instance, food waste is a huge problem. About 44% of all foods wasted in South Africa are fruits or vegetables. However, Slow Food is a nonprofit changing that. Through an initiative called World Disco Soup Day, Slow Food sponsors festivals in many cities around the world, including Johannesburg, where ugly vegetables are brought in to make an eclectic, community soup. By feeding the community, World Disco Soup Day raises awareness about food waste and teaches people how to use unappealing produce.

Similarly, according to the United Nations, “farms in Kenya reject up to 83 tons of perfectly nutritious vegetables simply because they are considered too ugly and off-putting for consumers.” An initiative sponsored by the World Food Programme is trying to change that by feeding schoolchildren with fruits and vegetables that would have been thrown away. This project in Nairobi, Kenya has been able to provide school lunches for over 2,200 students.

While still new, the ugly food in Africa movement is growing as a means of reducing food waste and hunger. Organizations like Slow Food and the World Food Programme are leading the way by using creative approaches to feeding communities.

– Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Unsplash

Trash for CashAlthough “trash” and “cash” would not normally be used in the same sentence, Packa-Ching, a mobile recycling company coined the term “swap trash for cash.” It helps educate the communities of South Africa about the importance of recycling waste instead of throwing it away where it ends up in one of many landfills. By providing payment for the recyclable waste, the company is slowly changing the recycling behavior of many. Its goals are to alleviate both poverty and the carbon footprint of all who participate in the program.

South Africa and Poor Living

Many people in all areas of South Africa live in poverty. Upper and lower-bound poverty lines measure poverty. It depends on different factors such as food and basic living needs. As of 2015, 55.5% of people lived below the upper-bound poverty line and 40% of people lived below the lower-bound poverty line. Several groups of people are more susceptible to living in poverty. 90% of Black people in South Africa are poor. Only 33.2% of children in 2015 didn’t live in poverty and people with no education were more likely to be poor.

Unemployment Rates Are Everything

Furthermore, unemployment and poverty go hand in hand. As of 2019, about 28.18% of South Africans were unemployed. In comparison, the unemployment rate for the United States was 3.68%. 40% of people live below the lower-bound poverty line in South Africa and 28% endure unemployment. There is a huge need to find a solution that can help reduce both numbers. Although there are many mountains to climb to help lower the unemployment rate in South Africa, recycling is one small option that can help.

Additionally, there are many economic benefits to recycling. For example, in 2001, the United States had over $236 billion in revenue from recycling. Recycling can reduce unemployment rates by creating jobs, and also eliminates the cost of landfills. Although there is always room to improve, through good habits, Americans essentially trade their trash for cash and have seen an economic boost as a result.

Packa-Ching

Launched in August 2017, Packa-Ching is a business that provides mobile recycling devices to many areas of South Africa. Individuals in those communities can bring their recyclable materials to the mobile units. It swaps trash for cash and gets paid in an electronic account in exchange for recyclables. The electronic bank account eliminates any problems that would accompany dealing with hard cash. The mobile units make recycling easy and convenient. The company focuses on many of the poorer areas, which provides a small income to the community and also allows for an easy cleanup of trash that would otherwise sit in a landfill.

Salvage Scheme

Packa-Ching aims to present its plan to the youth of South African communities, helping instill good habits from early ages. With 95% of South Africans not participating in a recycling program, there is huge room for growth. So many of the communities have not had any successful recycling programs before. As a result, pollution and waste surround inhabitants. When an individual can see how important it is to recycle, as well as how easy it is, their behavior can spread to others. They exchange their trash for cash based on the current value of each material, which is taken away, leaving a cleaner city behind.

Packa-Ching’s mission paves the way for a more profitable future for the participants and a cleaner future for the planet. Through convenient mobile recycling pickup, education through schools and a monetary incentive for individuals to recycle, they make the entire process fun and easy. When it asks people to swap trash for cash, it is helping create positive habits, which can ensure a brighter tomorrow for all.

– Tawney Smith
Photo: Unsplash

Healthcare in South Africa
With a population of 57.78 million people and with approximately 49.2% of the adult population living below the poverty line, AIDS and healthcare in South Africa are two of the country’s main issues. In particular, the unequal distribution of healthcare resources has worsened the country’s fight against HIV and AIDS. During recent years, South Africa has begun to take steps toward change. Here are five facts about the AIDS and healthcare crisis in South Africa.

5 Facts About AIDS and Healthcare in South Africa

  1. Systems of Healthcare in South Africa: South Africa’s healthcare system is severely divided between the public and private sectors. The public sector (the healthcare provided by government funding) covers about 84% of the population. In South Africa, 70% of doctors work in the private sector, as people who can afford private healthcare tend to pay better, and private doctors have access to better resources. Furthermore, per capita expenditure in the private sector, or the cost per person, was about $1,400 in 2014, while per capita expenditure in the public sector was about $140. For comparison, the United States’ per capita healthcare expenditure is about $11,200.
  2. Rural vs. Urban Communities: As in many countries, there is significant inequality in access to healthcare between rural and urban communities. In South Africa, people living in rural areas tend to rely on public healthcare. Unfortunately, there is an inadequate number of trained healthcare professionals in the public sector. A study conducted in 2002 revealed that urban areas of South Africa were more likely to have higher percentages of HIV infections. However, as a result of the inequality of healthcare, people in rural South Africa were two times less likely to receive testing for HIV or AIDs.
  3. AIDS Epidemic: In South Africa, 7.7 million people live with AIDS, the highest case rate in the world. About 20% of the world’s HIV cases are in South Africa, and within the country, about 60% of women have HIV. Even in areas in which testing is available, many choose not to partake, as they are afraid of receiving a positive result. A lack of resources, including education for young people and proper training for healthcare workers, has created issues surrounding awareness of the disease, proper diagnosis and access to PrEP. This drug reduces the possibility of infection by 99%.
  4. ART Program AID: In 2003, South Africa rolled out the largest Antiretroviral Treatment plan (ART) in the world. Offered through the public sector, ART serves as the primary HIV intervention for both children and adults. An important aspect of its implementation was affordability, as only 13.7% of South Africans have medical insurance. With the help of CDC South Africa, government facilities and mission hospitals, more people were able to access and benefit from the program.
  5. The Good News: ART has proved to be successful, as adult HIV deaths peaked in 2006, with 231,000 deaths, and then decreased dramatically. In 2014 there were 95,000 deaths, which was a reduction of 74.7%. In total, from the very beginning of the program in 2003 to 2014, the ART program reduced HIV adult deaths by an estimated 1.72 million, a clear positive trend. Most recently, in 2018, 71,000 people died from AIDs-related illness, which was a 50% decrease from 2010. Furthermore, 62% of people with HIV had access to treatment. 87% of pregnant women with AIDs also received antiretroviral medication, preventing 53,000 HIV infections in newborn babies. These statistics are all improvements from previous years.

While there is still work to be done to improve AIDS and healthcare in South Africa, much progress has been made. Increased funding and support for new programs and access to antiretroviral medication have had a significant impact. Moving forward, it is essential that these programs expand their efforts to further reduce deaths caused by HIV and AIDS.

Alyssa Hogan
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in South Africa
Despite recent groundbreaking laws and activists campaigning for women’s rights in South Africa, many women still live in fear of harm. Especially because of COVID-19, gender-based violence has grown heavily, as women must live with their abusers at home while services to assist these survivors are being put on hold. Out of this persistent injustice, however, new steps have emerged for women’s rights.

Violence Against Women in South Africa

In addition to COVID-19’s devastation, the death toll of women by violent criminals has risen. In response, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa proposed to make public the national register of offenders convicted of violence against women. This new step for women’s rights in South Africa will help ensure that apprehended criminals will not continue to murder and rape.

In an interview with The Borgen Project, Mowbray resident Aimee Sawyer, a domestic abuse survivor, spoke about how even in high school, she walked in fear to school every day, recalling a vivid memory when a builder shouted to her, “Hey girl come here so I can kiss your white ass.”’ Ever since she could remember, there was always a new story about horrific acts of violence against women. “Today,” she said, “it was a story about a woman who was shot and killed by her husband who followed her into a police station. He shot her as she was laying a charge of domestic violence against him.”

The Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap, estimated to be between 15%-17%, is also a concern for women’s rights in South Africa. A South African woman would need to work two months more than a man to earn an equivalent salary to what he would earn in a year. However, some progress has occurred through The Employment Equity Act, which promotes equality and fair treatment in the workplace, no matter race, gender or marital status. More recently, The Equal Pay International Coalition and The Equal Pay Platform of Champions aim to combat the gap through activism and representation.

Poverty and Women’s Rights

Poverty is another factor nullifying women’s rights in South Africa. Female-headed households are vastly poorer than male-headed households. Additionally, every two out of five urban dwellers are poor in comparison to four out of every five in rural areas. One reason for this is social discrimination. Women are poorer due to less paid work, education and owning less poverty. But recently, women have resumed political leadership roles, advancing legislation that promotes gender equality, such as equal land rights and reproductive rights to women. The African Growth and Opportunity Act, now extended to 2025, is a prime example of how the U.S. is aiding South Africa by improving trade and creating a free-market relationship.

South Africa is combating gender-based violence, according to the many relief systems implemented. “I think the law says that women and men have equal rights, but sadly, for many citizens, that is not the case,” Aimee Sawyer said. Nevertheless, gender equality, while still far off, is not unattainable.

 – Shelby Gruber
Photo: Flickr

Water Insecurity in South Africa
Located at the Southern tip of Africa, South Africa is one of the most developed Sub-Saharan African states on the continent. However, water insecurity in South Africa poses a risk to the economy and livelihoods of the country’s 49 million inhabitants. Rains that once provided much-needed water now fall less frequently. On top of this, some cities like Durban face issues surrounding water theft. About 35% of their water supply is stolen or dealt with illegally. For example, Cape Town has been rationing water since 2018. It has even geared up for a Day Zero, a day in which no person from the city would receive any water.

Water is a human necessity for hydration. However, it is also necessary for proper cooking, sanitation, sewage, bathing, washing dishes and cleaning clothes. Because of this, there are many favorable forces at work to alleviate the effects of water insecurity in South Africa.

5 Forces Alleviating the Effects of Water Insecurity in South Africa

  1. Universal behavior change is one of the things alleviating water insecurities in South Africa. Rationing water does not target the source of the problem. However, it ensures equitable sharing practices. The richest of individuals in South Africa’s Cape Town is receiving the same amount of water per day as the most impoverished individuals. This fact might seem obvious, but many countries in the world would struggle to enforce such practices. This dilemma comes on the back of South Africa’s groundbreaking legislation through the National Water Act. This piece of law formally recognizes sanitary water as a constitutional right. Thus, the government must work toward providing water for all constitutionally.
  2. Desalination plants are also alleviating water insecurity in this country. South Africa is beginning to invest in water desalination plants that could ultimately filter salt-water. These would be capable of providing millions with water sustainably. Ocean water would also be drinkable. While these plants are costly and time-sensitive to build, there is no price on providing a sustainable water supply. Positioned with an extensive coastline, South Africa has no limit to its provision of seawater.
  3. Additionally, improved wastewater treatment can help alleviate water insecurity. Repurposing wastewater has the potential to save large quantities of water every year. This process makes water once again usable for a variety of diverse water requirements. South Africa is continually investing in this technology, successfully targeting water insecurity in South Africa. Also, while this does not effectively solve the problem at its source, it does the most critical job of providing water to South Africans. The Mvula Trust is one of the world’s leading water and sanitation nongovernmental organizations. It is leading the charge in investment for wastewater treatment plants in South Africa. It recently organized a workshop bringing together many organizations such as the USAID and the Department of Water Affairs. The organizations agree on specific goals designed to ensure wastewater treatment is handled sustainably.
  4. Furthermore, another force that is working to alleviate water insecurity in South Africa is rainwater harvesting. While rainfall is much less consistent over the past few decades, South Africans have become more committed to taking advantage of rains. Many have installed formal or makeshift rainwater collection tanks that allow households to store water themselves. A Cape Town company named Jaguar Products has created a sleek and lightweight tank design that is not only effective but affordable. The selling of these available tanks not only aid households in securing water, but it also helps to drive the economy. It even provides money to South African businesses and jobs to South African citizens.
  5. Grocery Store Water Purification Systems are working to alleviate water insecurity as well. Because water from the tap has been scarce in some places within South Africa, many citizens have gotten water from their local grocery stores. Through donations and NGO work, many stores have drinking water refill systems. They allow sustainable purification of water. The Waterpod by I-Drop has been crucial in providing thousands with water. It will enable the shop owners to sell purified water, saves plastic through its reusability, and allows accessibility of purified water. While this is a fantastic innovation, it can only serve as a temporary fix, not as the new normal. South Africa has formally announced access to clean water as a constitutional right. Thus, individuals should not have to pay for their water. This has been effective in providing water for many households.

Overall, water insecurity in South Africa is not a problem that is going away. The country has averted many crises; however, it still needs to find a long-term solution. This issue does not only pertain to South Africa. With watersheds drying up all around the world, this issue will become more pervasive worldwide with each year that passes. Emphasizing the importance of this issue in South Africa could provide the fix that ultimately saves the rest of the world in the future. Thus, giving the South African government and its researchers the tools to succeed has the potential to solve a problem inevitable to everyone.

Keagan James
Photo: Flickr

benjamin mkapaThe world was deeply saddened on July 23, 2020, when former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa passed away at the age of 81. Mkapa, the third president of the United Republic of Tanzania, served as the country’s leader from 1995 to 2005. He was deeply involved with social issues in Tanzania before, during and after his term. Mkapa leaves behind positive impacts in economic reforms, unifying African countries and fighting HIV/AIDS.

 Economic Reforms in Tanzania

When Benjamin Mkapa first entered office in 1995, Tanzania was struggling economically. Sky-high inflation rates augmented by low growth rates put Tanzanians in a difficult situation. However, Mkapa’s strict monetary and financial policies completely turned around the economic outlook of Tanzania. In 1994, Tanzania’s GDP growth rate was an abysmal 1.57%. By the end of Mkapa’s term, though, the GDP growth rate soared to 7.48%. A similar story exists for Tanzania’s inflation rate: in 1994, it was 37.9%, but by 2005, the inflation rate had dropped to 4.36%.

Importantly, Mkapa worked to open the country up to foreign investment. This put Tanzania on the world stage and allowed for an increase in capital for the country to develop and grow. Another of Mkapa’s signature goals was to reduce corruption within the political system. He gained the nickname “Mr. Clean” for his policies aimed at curbing corruption, such as stricter tax collection. These policies resulted in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank canceling Tanzania’s debt.

Unifying Southern African Countries

Former President Benjamin Mkapa always had a vision beyond his own country. He understood that Tanzania’s neighbors faced very similar problems to those he had helped solve during his tenure as president. As such, he had a commitment to the African people and their problems, regardless of their country.

Under Mkapa’s watch, Tanzania played a key role in the liberation of other southern African countries. It was difficult to unite the various self-rule movements from each of the countries, but Mkapa worked religiously to help his neighbors. Mkapa assisted in peace mediation processes for many nearby countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. One of his final endeavors was attempting to mediate peace in Burundi, which is still an ongoing issue. Finally, Mkapa was the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for one year, from 2003-2004. The SADC is an organization whose goal is to facilitate socioeconomic cooperation among southern African countries.

The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

 Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa quickly responded to the HIV epidemic while he was in office. He declared HIV to be a national disaster in 1999 and established the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. Mkapa’s quick and decisive response was important in limiting the number of lives affected by the disease.

Mkapa also created TAPAC, the Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition. This organization was instrumental in drafting and enforcing legislation about HIV that increased funding for AIDS research and projects. In addition, it helped vulnerable people affected by the disease.

Even after Benjamin Mkapa left office, he stayed on the forefront of AIDS research and response. He helped found the organization Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation, which brings together important African leaders in the fight against AIDS. His work undoubtedly helped countless people deal with and avoid AIDS.

Mkapa’s work with economic reform, African unity and HIV/AIDS all helped to improve the lives of countless citizens in Tanzania as well as southern Africa as a whole. He wholeheartedly believed in the power of the younger generation to make change for a better future. His legacy will surely not be forgotten, as his work lives on today.

– Evan Kuo
Photo: Wikimedia