Our taps are running dry, and the situation doesn’t seem to be improving, or not about to in the near future. Adding to our woes is the rainfall forecast showing that there would not be enough rainfall this year.
Botswana is not the only country going through this spell. The southern African region is grappling with drought and water crisis.
At a recent gathering in Sweden, the South African minister responsible for water supply stated that the water situation is likely to improve after year 2017.
As much as this admission is shocking, the evidence is right before us - clouds just gathered over our heads but there is no rain. It has been like this since 2013. Maybe instead of just looking up and hoping for the heavens to open, we have to use our brains and resources to rescue ourselves.
With the announcement of the Economic Stimulus Package, the authorities have to think of using part of those foreign reserves to set up processing plants around the country for recycled water. First there should be sewage systems in major villages and those with high populations with proximity to the urban areas. Big villages such as Gabane, Thamaga, Otse and Mahalapye, for an example, should have properly functioning sewerage systems, capable of collecting millions of litres of wastewater that can be recycled.
It is unfortunate that we only think about these initiatives when times are hard. We debate the issues, agree that they should be adopted, but implementation is always a big challenge. If only we can apply our minds, and political will, it can be done. With treatment plants, we can produce water for our gardens, toilets, laundry and construction. We can also produce sustainable jobs.
Yes, there are many proposed projects to address the water shortage, such as drawing water from Kazungula and Lesotho amongst others. But as proven by the continued failure and pipe burst from the North-South water carrier project, drawing water from far off places has many pit falls. Add to that a foreign country.
When the country is faced with its own challenges, it can, and has withdrawn supply. This is what happened with South Africa recently withholding water supply from Molatedi Dam to Greater Gaborone. The neighbours had to give preference to their people. The South African government had done the same with electric supply, when Eskom had to cut supply to Botswana Power Corporation when power outages became frequent.
The challenge of depending on foreign countries for basic services as water is that as a country we have no control. What happens when there is political instability, as there is right now in Lesotho, or mismanagement of our resources?
We all know that there is a global effort to reverse the effects of climate change and scientific studies have proved that it is a possible endeavour.
Maybe we should pause and think about concentrating our energies on recycled water at the same time praying for the rains. Miracles can happen.
“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”