The Amathole District Municipality says it will meet the January 15 deadline for it to present a water supply plan for communities of ward 28 in Centane, in the Eastern Cape.
On December 9, a coalition of community activists and civil society organisations working in the province wrote a final letter of demand to the Amathole and Mnquma municipalities as well as the Amatola Water Board demanding emergency and long-term water provision plans.
The group includes Coastal Links’ Harvey Ntsoko, the Masifundisane Trust, Afesis Corplan and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).
It has threatened to take the municipalities and the water board to court should they fail to present an emergency and long-term plan for the Centane residents, whom they say are still unable to access water – more than nine months a national state of disaster was declared due the COVID-19 outbreak.
The activists say while there are acute water access problems in communities across the country, the situation in parts of the Eastern Cape has reached crisis proportions.
“In the area of Centane in the Eastern Cape, the situation has been worsened by an ongoing drought, with the sick and the elderly bearing the brunt of a water, health and environmental crisis, all exacerbated by a breakdown in local governance. Moreover, the province is now in the grips of a second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they say.
While acknowledging the problems, the Amathole District Municipality Spokesperson, Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso says they are doing their best to mitigate the situation.
“Our immediate intervention is water carting. We are continuing with borehole exploration in the area as part of short term interventions,” she says.
“It is noteworthy to indicate that the area is part of our calytic projects on sustainable water solutions as long term solution. In this regard, we are investigating alternative water sources, including sea water desalination,” Madikizela-Vuso adds.
The municipality says it hopes the implementation of its Vision 2058 strategic document will address some of the challenges the province has had to contend with over the years in its bid to provide water to its rural communities. These include the delay of water deliveries to communities that rely on portable water due to frequent truck breakdowns, which the municipality attributes to bad terrain.