When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, multiple campaigns were launched detailing the importance of hand-washing as the first line of defence in curbing the spread of the virus, along with step-by-step instructions on how to do this effectively. As well-intentioned as these campaigns are, it is not as simple for those living in rural areas that do not have continuous easy access to clean running water. Along with this, there are difficulties relating to easy access to soap, hand sanitiser, and face masks. In human settlements, social distancing is also more difficult than in suburban areas.
By the end of April 2020, minister Lindiwe Sisulu of the Department of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, announced that the department has delivered almost 17 000 water storage tanks and more than 1 200 water tankers across the country. It has not been a smooth process though, as these water tankers are being targeted by criminals while on their way to deliver water to rural areas, and according to EWN, the government has not been consistent in delivering on their promise during the crisis.
Water shortages in South Africa is not a new issue, but the COVID-19 crisis vastly increased the need for access to clean water, and it has highlighted the struggle that many South African citizens face on a daily basis. In some cases it has taken the involvement of the South African Human Rights Commission to get the ball rolling on water supply, which still did not yield satisfactory results.
While short term solutions (such as water tankers and hand-washing stations in high traffic areas) are useful during the crisis, long term solutions may prove to be more cost effective. According to the International Water Management Institute, water tankers are one of the most expensive water solutions out there, and while it is useful in the short run, it is not a viable long term solution.
In the face of these challenges, community access to water reservoirs and boreholes should definitely be considered. We as Staalboer Aqua know that water reservoirs and water storage tanks are an inexpensive long term solution, and it does not require constant maintenance. Steel water reservoirs and water storage tanks are not only a solution to the difficulties surrounding COVID-19, but to water access in general.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za