For the attention of:
President Ramaphosa
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu – Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation
Disaster Management Command Structure

Regarding: Urgent request to address acute water shortages affecting women and their families in 24 communities across the country

The C19 Women’s Solidarity Forum is linked to and stands in solidarity with women in more than 200 largely rural and extremely poor communities across the country who are at the frontline of the COVID 19 crisis. We have long-standing ties with these communities.

We wish to bring to your attention the extreme water problems confronting 24 communities who confront COVID 19 without an essential resource for health, including good hygiene, and well-being.

We acknowledge the important commitments and efforts of the President, Command Structure and the Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation to centralise the delivery of water to communities in this time of crisis. The 41 000-water tanker intervention has been important, and we acknowledge the critical efforts of Minister Sisulu to address banditry which is undermining the delivery of water to stressed communities.

Despite these commitments and interventions, the C19 Women’s Solidarity Forum is aware of at least 24 communities currently deprived of water supplies, which realities existed well before the start of the pandemic and the instituting of a national lockdown.

These communities of concern have, without exception, all registered their complaints from years prior to the COVID 19 crisis, to their local councillors and local municipalities, with some having registered their problems to the Ministry without redress. Now, during the COVID 19 crisis when risks are multiplied, they have made further requests which are still not being addressed.

Women in communities are the ones who carry the burden of water problems. They are standing for long hours waiting for water supplies, which exposes them to others and heightens the risk of COVID 19 transmission. Some women report that they are walking long distances of two kilometres and more to fetch water for washing hands, bathing and drinking. This places women at grave risk of sexual violence as predatory men attack them on their way. And scarce money in desperately poor households is being diverted to pay private water vendors, often the only avenue to obtain clean water supplies.

The communities in severe water distress are listed below:

  1. Somkhele, Mtubatuba Municipality, Kwazulu Natal
  2. Phola/Ogies, Nkangala District Municipality, Mpumalanga
  3. Steenbokpan, Lephalale, Limpopo
  4. Shongoane, Lephalale, Limpopo
  5. Mabuela Village, Mokopane, Limpopo
  6. Sekutlong Village, Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, Limpopo
  7. Ndondo Square, Sakhisizwe Municipality, Eastern Cape
  8. Rhodana, Emalahleni municipality, Eastern Cape
  9. Nobanjane, Ngcizele and Nxaxo villages, Amatole District Municipality, Eastern Cape
  10. Nduli township with two informal settlements, Witzenburg Municipality, Western Cape
  11. Tulbagh with four informal settlements, Witzenburg Municipality, Western Cape
  12. Wolseley with two informal settlements, Witzenburg Municipality, Western Cape
  13. Various farms, Robertson, Western Cape

See details in Annexure A.