SA Bandaid for Rising Water Crisis

What is the solution to SA’s water crisis? A Swiss company called Vestergaard may host the short term solution.

“Water security remains one of the most tangible social, political, and economic challenges faced by communities across the globe today,” states South African Local Government Association (SALGA) councillor, Pinky Moloi.

Residents in certain areas of Johannesburg were left without water for more than three weeks after a recent water crisis in Gauteng areas, with similar reports in the Eastern Cape and Free State, according to an article published on ENCA.

In a related article on ENCA, “SA’s water crisis – is it worse than you think?”, residents of Tsakane in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni, experienced debilitating effects due to water outages, where children were unable to attend school. Water had to be retrieved in buckets for basic functions like washing and drinking from neighbouring areas.

Cases like these have been recurring across the country more and more frequently of late with devastating results brought on by droughts and by poor management of the countries water systems and electricity grid.

According to the CEO of the South African Water Research Commission, Dhasen Naidoo “we have to concentrate on finding ways to re-use and recycle water, six to seven times if possible. We must learn to be water-wise, particularly in areas such as sanitation.”

How does this affect us, and can we rest assured that these processes will be managed more adequately than the track record to date? What short term water solutions are out there to sustain us until systems have been upgraded by the government?

A water filter of Swiss origin may just host the short term solution.

LifeStraw® water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water. This chemical free, ultra-filtration system has undergone rigorous tests internationally and by the SABS and is proven to instantly convert contaminated water into safe drinking water, removing up to 99.9999% of bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts. It also removes turbidity, volatile organic compounds, chlorine and trace chemicals from the water.

The Lifestraw® products range from the portable Personal Straw which filters 1000L of contaminated water, right up to the light-weight community unit with four taps which filters 100 000L of water.

LifeStraw® complies with the US Environmental Protection (EPA) 1987 Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers and is being rolled out right across the world. The easy-to-use filters are a vital tool for some of the 780 million people who don’t have ready access to safe drinking water.

More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all of these deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. Statistics are alarming:

  • 780 million people in the world lack access to an improved source for drinking water1.
  • 61 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa still don’t have access to safe drinking water1.
  • Lack of access to safe drinking water contributes to the staggering burden of diarrheal disease worldwide.
  • Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea1.

LifeStraw® addresses cryptosporidium, which was recently found to be a leading cause of diarrheal illness in children under five and is attributed to higher mortality in children under two4.Point-of-use (POU) treatments such as LifeStraw® Family 2.0 can accelerate the health gains associated with the provision of safe drinking water to at-risk populations, which is important for children under five and people living with HIV.

Improvement of drinking-water quality, such as point-of-use disinfection, could lead to a 45% reduction of diarrhoea episodes2. Among all point-of-use water treatment methods, water filters have been shown to be the most effective for reducing diarrheal diseases3.

What makes this product even more unique is the fact that upon the purchase of any LifeStraw® products, a child in Southern Africa is ensured clean drinking water for the minimum period of one year through Vestergaard’s humanitarian project. Corporations are encouraged to participate as part of their CSI / CSR innitiatives. Other partners to Vestergaard are Aqua4Life (sole distributers of LifeStraw® in Southern Africa), Rotary Int. (Clean Water & Sanitation).

Offering a short to long term solution to the problem, hopefully LifeStraw® will buy the government some time to mend their looming R180 billion rand water infrastructure crisis. According to Gareth Morgan, DA Spokesperson for Environmental Affairs and Tourism: “the national government has also not prioritised [the infrastructure issue] adequately. While it estimates that R180bn would be needed for a complete overhaul of the system, it allocated only R1bn – less than one percent of what is needed – this year.”

To find out more about LifeStraw® products, go to www.aqua4life.net or www.lifestraw-sa.co.za, check out their Facebook page or connect on Twitter. 

References:

  1. ENCA – Water shortage crisis looming in South Africa: http://www.enca.com/sas-water-crisis-it-worse-you-think
  2. ENCA – SA’s water crisis – is it worse than you think?: http://citizen.co.za/200559/water-crisis-looming-in-south-africa/
  3. UNICEF and World Health Organization. 2012. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.
  4. United Nations Millennium Project. Health, Dignity, and Development: What Will it Take? 
  5. Clasen, T.F., Roberts, I.G., Rabie, T., Schmidt, W.P., & Cairncross, S. 2006. Interventions to improve water quality for preventing diarrhea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,(3), CD004794.
  6. Kotloff K, Nataro J, Blackwelder W, Nasrin D, Farag TH, Panchalingham S. 2013. Burden and aetiology of diarrhoeal disease in infants and young children in developing countries (the Global Enteric Multicenter Study, GEMS): a prospective, case-control study. Lancet.
  7. Morgan, G. 2008. South Africa’s looming water crisis.  http://www.environment.co.za/environmental-issues-news/south-africas-looming-water-crisis.html

Author: PR Officer

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