Photo credit: Louis Smit

Cape Town water crisis will hit poor blacks, coloured populations hardest

1 min read

The population most affected by the coming water shortage in Cape Town will be its poorest.

Mostly black and coloured (or mixed-race) South Africans living in squalor settlements outside of the city, already receive poor water, if any at all. Now they dread the coming scarcity as they fear that they will be blocked from the natural resource.

This week, hundreds protest city officials. Organizations representing the poor communities say that the crisis is a result of failed city management.The Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition(CTWCC) says that the neglect by the city spurs to the possible privatization of water. If waterways become privately owned, CTWCC say that this further disenfranchises already vulnerable populations.

Khayelitsha township, one of the districts established to house those who provide the labor force in Cape Town dealt with generations of exploitation and sub-standard living conditions.

From open, raw sewage to improper housing, township residents deal with unclean water daily. In 2014, water borne illnesses from polluted water caused riots in Cape Town townships.

A Tale of Two Realities

The overarching issue is gross inequities of wealth and access to resources. Most of the majority black population in South Africa live in extreme poverty. While, the minority white population largely live well-off. This gap was created to a system of economic and political abuses over the centuries.

Township residents are descendants of the Khoikhoi and San people, indigenous nations who populated the area before the arrival Europeans. In the mid-1600s, Dutch settlers invaded their territory then forced the indigenous nations into a slave system before implementing a brutal colonial system. The British did the same.

Eventually, the Dutch took on the name, Afrikaners after the Second Anglo-Boer War, a fight for supremacy against British colonial forces.

Since, wealth and social justice inequities based on racial classifications have been paramount. Whites, both Afrikaners and British created a segregationist system, called Apartheid, but taken from the books of the Jim Crow system in the United States.

Water shortages and the availability of clean water has plagued townships for decades. The crisis will make matters worse, and some fear that it will create a situation of life and death, again.



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