One South African has a right to 25 litres of safe water per day to meet their basic human needs. According to Dr Ashok Chapagain a senior professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State, the country celebrates World Water Day today with experience of just how scarce the life-giving resource has become.
“Our country gets only about half of the global average rainfall. On top of that the distribution of rainfall is highly seasonal and variable. We are a water scarce country, both in terms of quantity and quality, the quantity is not sufficient and the quality is deteriorating,” said Dr Chapagain.
Water is not only crucial for drinking and other household uses, but a large amount of water is needed to produce food that we eat and the water intensive products services we consume.
“The total amount of water needed to produce 1 cup of black coffee is 140 litres if we include all the water used in producing the coffee powder from the farms, processing mills and to the cup,” said Dr Chapagain.
He stated that the water footprint that each of us leaves is vast. “There are ways to reduce the total water footprint of humanity. At the core of it is changing our consumption pattern by being mindful of what we consume, and how we consume or waste,” said the water expert.
“However, there is a bigger role for businesses and governments to help manage our scarce and precious water wisely,” elaborated Dr Chapagain. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele