To drive home the message that water-related impacts are key to how climate change is experienced by communities around the world, South African NGOs Umphilo waManzi and Capetown Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) hosted a “water reality tour” on Thursday, December 1. Discussions were led by people active in the sector at both grassroots and policy levels. The tour showcased experiences of what communities have done to secure their water rights in South Africa’s urban and rural areas within the context of the challenges posed by climate change.
The goal was to highlight community-led water management initiatives in Cape Town, efforts to secure water for food production in KwaZulu-Natal, community and municipality responses to drought in the southern Cape, and more. It was also an opportunity to contribute to the growing discourse and activism on water and climate change.
Here is what Director of Umphilo waManzi Mary Galvin had to say:
“Our session today included lively discussion between people from social movements, NGOs, and unions. One of the main questions related to where people should expend their energies. We have had years of advocacy related to implementing South Africa’s admirable policies. To date, local government has been unresponsive and the country has experienced extensive service delivery protests. It is not about communities taking over government responsibilities, but if we wait for leaders to act then we are even more vulnerable. We can begin to adapt, promote localisation, and consider means of achieving water sovereignty. This will require a significant shift in mindsets of waiting for the government to fix all. But it is based on people’s power of the 99 per cent holding 1 per cent accountable.”