African schoolchild plays splashing water from the tap placed outside in the schoolyard.

Scenarios for the Future of Water in South Africa

The water crisis in South Africa is dire. Many areas of South Africa are, quite literally, running out of usable water. Cape Town, one of the country’s top tourist destinations, is coping with its worst drought in more than a hundred years. The city was declared a disaster area in March 2017, and the water shortage has become so intense that citizens fear the taps will soon run dry.

The numbers tell the story:

  • Ninety-eight percent of the available water supply is currently being used.
  • Water usage is expected to grow at a rate of 1% annually, driven by population growth and economic development.
  • Water demand is expected to exceed supply by 17% in 2030.

Despite the severe drought, demand for water remains high, driven primarily by increased production in agriculture (63%) and industrial sectors (11%), such as manufacturing and mining. Domestic needs, too, account for a large percentage of demand (26%), owing to rising income levels and population growth. Whether for businesses or homes, excessive water use is a problem that sucks water sources dry. In addition, irresponsible agricultural and industrial practices continue to harm water quality. This, in turn, damages downstream ecosystems, like wetlands, that serve to mitigate pollution, droughts, floods, and other environmental damage.

We need to reverse this vicious cycle before it’s too late. Water shortages, poor-quality water, and damaged ecosystems all pose significant risk to people’s livelihoods and businesses’ bottom lines. To balance critical needs—such as safeguarding the supply of fresh drinking water and managing thirsty crops—we must think creatively about the future.

To explore possible water futures, the World Wide Fund for Nature–South Africa, supported by The Boston Consulting Group, hosted a Future of Water workshop in South Africa in early 2017. The workshop convened a diverse group of key water users from the national government, academia, NGOs, mining, technology, finance, insurance, agriculture, beverage, and more to discuss specific scenarios—a powerful tool to help individuals, companies, and governments stretch their thinking and tackle uncertainty in what lies ahead.

Source & Credit : bcg



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