n Civil Engineering = Siviele Ingenieurswese - How prepared is the water and sanitation sector to respond to disasters in South Africa? : environmental engineering

Volume 23, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 1021-2000



In February 2015 the rumours started doing the rounds that South Africa was faced with an imminent total shutdown of all its generating capacity, which would plunge the country into darkness for two weeks. It was so bad that Bruce Whitfield on Radio 702 was asking every CEO who came on air what provisions they had made to keep their businesses running during this period, without understanding that to keep a business running is more than just a backup generator and a supply of fuel. Not once was it asked, "Do you have sufficient supply of water? Where are you going to dispose of your wastewater (as the sewer system is likely to rapidly block without constant water flows)? How will you secure yourself against the majority of the population who now lack access to the very basic necessity of life, water?" The last question is obviously of immense interest to the water and sanitation sector, as we are the ones responsible for supplying that necessity and, as it must also be remembered, we supply the water to the power stations that is used in the generation of electricity.

The sector is, therefore, very likely to face these questions from concerned politicians. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to help the sector understand the risks it faces so as to ensure water security and that resources are not unnecessarily diverted away from the essential day to day operations.

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