Following President, Cryril Ramaphos’s announcement of the COVID-19 national lockdown in South Africa on the 27th of March, The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (HSWS) together with the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is working to bring relief by delivering tanks and water-carting trucks to water scarce communities.
By mid-April, 14 737 tanks and 1 239 water-carrying trucks had been distributed to different communities across the country. To co-ordinate the supply of water to the vulnerable communities, Water and sanitation launched a command centre, based at the Rand Water offices in Johannesburg.
Ramaphosa said the 400 000 tanks available for HSWS to buy will help people maintain good hygiene.“We have urged people to practice social distance but the personal hygiene side is also something that we must focus on by getting people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds,” he said.
HSWS Minister Sisulu said they have identified 2 000 communities that will receive water through trucks and tanks. “This will include providing communal water storage with water collection points, which will be filled by means of water carting in the interim,” said Sisulu.
Furthermore,HSWS is also providing hand-washing facilities in public places, such as taxi ranks. On the other hand, the Department of HSWS is also planning to move people from densely populated areas. The de-densification programme will see people from 29 densely populated informal settlements being moved by HSWS.
“These informal settlements have a high propensity for the spread of COVID-19. The spread could get out of control and we could find ourselves overwhelmed if we do not do something as a matter of urgency. As such, we have decided that we need to resettle some of the residents to ease congestion. We have already started preparing some areas for resettlement,” she said.
The plan will be implemented by resettling households; building temporary residential units and using temporary accommodation that is immediately available, with the approval of the Department of Health.
In addition to this, Sisulu called on private companies that drill boreholes to help with the provision of water to communities. “We are appealing to borehole-drilling companies across the country to extend a helping hand by drilling boreholes for communities which are in desperate need of water,” she concludes.