There are a number of unfortunate events that happened in 2015 but the water crisis was catastrophic. The North-South Carrier (NSC), a pipeline that carries water from the northern dams to Gaborone broke down countless times, causing unprecedented shortages of water.
The break downs reached a point where one occurrence seemed to beget the next. In addition to the NSC failing to deliver water, Botswana was subjected to episodic drought which dried almost all of the country’s water sources to a dry patch. Botswana has nine dams from which surface water is sourced and then carried by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) through 15 management centres across the country. According to the 2015 climate and water digest statistics rainfall and evaporation trends determine the availability of water, which by extension means that the drought contributed to the low water production. The excessively high temperatures which the meteorological experts repeatedly warned of also did not favor the water situation given their contribution to increased levels of water evaporation.
The infrastructural faults of NSC coupled with the prolonged dry season caused a significant decline in the water levels of dams. The climate and water digest statistics cite that Gaborone, Bokaa and Molatedi (South Africa) dams had continuously falling levels. Gaborone dam had the highest percentage decrease, its levels dropping by 54 percent, followed by Molatedi at 38 percent and Bokaa at 33 percent. An agreement signed in 1988 between South Africa and Botswana included Molatedi dam, situated in South Africa, as one of the dams from which Botswana sourced surface water. Due to the extreme low level of Molatedi dam Botswana’s supply of water was cut in October. The supply cut from Molatedi dam exacerbated a situation that was on its own thinly compromised.
The lack of water manifested itself in different ways and an observation of its impact was as painful to watch as it was experiencing it. It is regrettable that that we still have to wake up in the morning and fend for water, and many times the hunt for water has been prolonged and dire. It is threatening that women have to contend with poor sanitation and hygienic conditions which makes them prone to diseases, particularly with regard to menstruation. It is lamentable that Batswana doubt the nutritional value of the water they drink due to their perception that sourcing of water is compromised. It is undesirable that productivity suffered, further regressing efficiency in the workplace. It is detrimental for water to hold the economy at ransom. It is scary to imagine the damage that water has caused and continues to. 2015 revealed the devil behind the water crisis and we unfortunately watched as the crisis sunk its claws into our lives.
WUC manages water centres that distribute water across the country and while it cannot be blamed for the erratic rainfall and the falling water levels in dams, it can however tighten its measures to respond adeptly to the water situation. Looking into 2016, the water crisis appears that it will continue, the rain still lurks behind the clouds and the temperatures are anticipated to continue to be high. The situation could be alleviated if government works dexterously to bring NSC to fully function and thus deliver water from the dams in which it is still available.