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The Water Situation in South Africa

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Written by Valley Irrigation |

SA Water Crisis

Experts say South Africa is facing a ticking time bomb in providing water for its citizens. South Africa is a semi-arid country where water is of critical strategic importance to all development, in any sector of the economy. The future economic expansion of this country could be harmed should the water resources not be optimally utilized to the benefit of all current and future users. 

The Institute for Security Studies forecasts that South Africa's current water shortage will increase three-fold by 2035. Research indicates that the agricultural sector alone accounts for approximately 50 percent of water utilization in South Africa and experiences water losses of between 30 and 40 percent. The country has a shortage of one trillion litres of water, and all indications are it will worsen. 


Various campaigns have been launched in the hope of increasing the awareness of the need to value water and to use it wisely. Water resources are under tremendous pressure from a growing population, ongoing development, pollution, wetland destruction, alien invasive plants, and climate change.

In order to gain more productivity from water use, farmers will need to be encouraged to consider various options of farming and irrigation methods that maximize crop production and minimize water consumption. Wherever possible, new proven and tested technologies should be used. Irrigation scheduling methods, as well as the use of different crop varieties should be practiced in order to conserve water. 

Center pivot irrigation is one of the most efficient forms of irrigation in the world. Flooding the surface of the field with water uses TWICE as much water as center pivot equipment. In fact, a center pivot can be up to 95 percent efficient.

The only answer to this water shortage dilemma in South Africa lies in changing people's attitude and thus their behavior to use water more wisely.

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