Positive interventions from the private sector could help protect water

Positive interventions from the private sector could help protect water . Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA)

Positive interventions from the private sector could help protect water . Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 18, 2024


Large metros, like Johannesburg and Cape Town, have recently seen water shedding and restrictions impact homes and business. Western Cape residents were warned this week to use water sparingly because of a decline in dam levels. In addition, South Africa is facing a potential dry season due to the El Nino weather pattern and ageing infrastructure.

Chief Executive of United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK), Malcolm Curror, said the country is already listed as a water-scarce region and recent reports indicate that the country may face a pending water crisis.

“Water is life, but water also fuels industry and concomitant economic growth. A water crisis would be exponentially more damaging to the country than load-shedding. Our mine operates in one of the country’s most arid regions, the Northern Cape desert area, and we have firsthand experience of the impact of its scarcity, both for communities, food security and industry alike,” he said.

Curror said positive intervention from companies in their geographic places of business could make a significant difference. Where the quantum might be substantial, several companies could partner and, in turn, work with local authorities, stakeholders and other role players to craft and implement sustainable solutions. “Together, key infrastructure development and community development projects that improve the lives and livelihoods of communities can be identified and proactively hedged against any challenge,” said Curror.

And it is possible, said Curror. UMK worked with labour, community and local authorities to develop two water augmentation projects recently that included infrastructure development such as a pump station, an outlet pipeline, reticulation facilities, chlorination facilities, storage tanks and fenced-off boreholes that now deliver a regular supply of clean, drinkable water at the Pompong and Ga-Sehunelo plants in the Joe Morolong Municipal area. The project had a collective price tag of R15 million.

“Key socio-economic outcomes, beyond the supply of drinking water, included added food security and the potential to develop entrepreneurs in the area. Water can make all of this possible, and the lack thereof can devastate cities, towns and communities,” said Curror.

While these projects were initiated to provide water to previously underserved areas, Curror said that the success and quick turnaround of the initiative evidences that public and private partnerships that aim to preserve a critical resource, like water, can be effective.

“It holds the potential to turn challenging situations around while also providing life-giving services to communities who have not yet benefited from national development. It is time that private enterprise takes up the challenge and starts at home, on their doorsteps, to improve the lives of the communities they serve and, simultaneously, contribute positively to the water security of everyone. We do not want to end up with a major national water crisis when we could have all worked together to prevent it,” said Curror.

United Manganese of Kalahari is a South African mining company, operating on the Kalahari manganese field in the John Taole Gaetsewe District Municipality in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

The Kalahari manganese field is regarded as the largest manganese ore deposit globally. The field extends continuously in a north-western direction, for a distance of 34km from Mamatwan Mine in the south to the Wessels and Black Rock Mines in the North

Saturday Star