Water Inequality

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Testimonies by rural women and men at the National Indaba of Tshintsha Amakhaya, Cape Town 3-5 Nov 2015

Baltimore

We are farm dwellers from Limpopo. One of our farm dweller communities, in Baltimore, doesn’t have water and they would receive water after 3 to 4 weeks. With help from Nkuzi, we wrote a letter to the department and they erected a water stand about 5000 metres and connected water from the water pump. Last week we heard that they have now connected electricity to the water.

Housing Assembly, Cape Town

Poor households get their water through water metres. This means that if we don’t have money, we don’t water. Fees for electricity and water are too high, so we can’t access these services because we can’t afford them. We ar campaigning for our right to decent housing and water for all. We operate in Cape town and go door-to-door and holding street meetings and speak out sessions to raise awareness. We must link urban and rural struggles

Ceres Women’s Coop

After a long fight for land the Women’s Cooperative in Ceres (Western Cape) was awarded a piece of land to produce. Water connection fees are R 8 000 and electricity R 45 000 even before production. There is also a service fee of R 900 per month. Had a meeting with municipality and district and still investigating and they’ll look for outside and women opted to move to a private piece of land. Have received correspondence, looking for funding to assist women but nothing positive has come out of that.

Hessequa Agri-Forum

Water on municipal commongate for emerging farmers. They received a water bill of R 49 000. After pressure from farmers this was waived somehow. The water management board is provincial and governed from Worcester. Commercial farmers offered the Hessequa farmers water but they want to be independent

Okhahlamba, New Reserve area

In most cases we didn’t generally have problems with water but now that the weather is like this, people would just go seek water and utilise a V-box (device to channel water from a spring). Municipality came to visit the community and told them. Instead municipality failed and the vbox are now useless. We have our boreholes that feed Tugela River but due to drought, that river is dry but water from Tugela river passes through people’s homes and when people need access to that water because they need permits. We can’t water gardens and even though the government promised water for all and provision for JOJO tanks. but that is not the case.

Okhahlamba, Newstand area

I have hatred in my heart; we don’t have peace in our area. No councillor, no water and 3 boreholes that support newsstand and have to wake up as early as 3 in the morning to get water or if you don’t, then you won’t have water for that day. We have live stock that need this water and everything in our homes depend on this water. If they do bring water, they target a few household and only goes to the main street and not everyone. We are a community that is not wanted and hated, even RDP houses have passed and missed us. We survive by farming (Livestock and crops). Our grazing land has been sold to another white person and now we don’t have a grazing land for our livestock. I would be happy to get suggestion on what to do as the community.

Even though we have a councillor, we have RDP houses and we have water but they don’t want us to use that water for irrigation. As women we looked for other water sources and identified old springs and boreholes with pipes and we dug trenches to take that water to our houses and every morning we do that. When we are done we will put pipes and ask work vision to help us because Department of agriculture said they don’t buy Jojo tanks for people who have gardens unless they buy their own Jojo tanks and the department will fill it for them.

Newcastle, Amajuba

Our problem started when the national springbok coach arrived and bought a nature reserve. Before him we didn’t have a problem and there was a stream that was from the mountain and now that he bought the land and he has turned that dam to feed his animals in the reserve. Also there were people who were staying closer, he fenced those inside and have turned them into his animals and infringed on their rights. This is painful because it seems like hell buy the whole area. He has 2 or 3 farms already and plans to buy more. He has closed pathways that communities were using and now those have been closed and communities now have to use longer routes to visit each other.

Limpopo, Mavungeni

I have a dam and we don’t really have a problem but my cattle have to go longer distances to get water due to the climate change.

21 years into democracy, inequality and poverty still reigns supreme. Our survey in 12 rural Municipalities showed that 1 in 4 households go hungry and that half the population is at risk of hunger. Many rural households are farming but only 2% earns income from selling their produce. Rural women and men are constrained by land, having less than 2 hectares, and access to water. 10% of large water users use 70-90% of water. 1,2% of rural households are large-scale commercial farmers who use a total of 95% of water in agriculture. Instead of regulating large users the Government wants small food producers to apply for water licenses and charge them high rates.