Connecting food waste and sanitation services can help African farmers

2 weeks 6 days ago
Fresh produce at a market in Blantyre, Malawi. Supplied

African agriculture is fundamental to supporting rural livelihoods and bolstering economic growth, and can benefit from technology and advances in other development sectors. One solution to help Africa’s agriculture can come from an unlikely sector: sanitation.

Most of the work in Africa’s agricultural sector is done by smallholder farmers but it’s an increasingly tough way to earn a living. Smallholder farmers have limited access to irrigation, are vulnerable to essential phosphorus supplies for their crops, pests, diseases and power supplies are unreliable where they exist. Access to new agricultural technologies, such as renewable fertilisers, are limited. In addition, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change..

What if at least part of the solution to these problems lay with another of the continent’s major challenges: in this case, sanitation.

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Wastewater audit missing as countrywide water shortage looms

3 weeks ago
After reports were sent to cabinet, water test results have not been released for five years

By Steve Kretzmann

Photo of a coast
Green-brown water flows directly from the Cape Flats sewage works into False Bay at Strandfontein and remains trapped in the surf zone. The last full national Green Drop Report of 2011 scored the quality of this treated water at 20%. Without independent testing, it is very difficult for the public to find out if it has since improved. On the day this photograph was taken, 23 February 2018, the sewage smell of the water remained strong despite a breeze coming in from the sea. Photo: Steve Kretzmann/WCN

A countrywide water shortage is a decade away unless urgent action is taken to rehabilitate and preserve our rivers and catchment areas, fix and maintain crumbling infrastructure, and implement water re-use.

Without intervention, South Africa faces a deficit of about 3,000 billion litres of water per year by 2030 the Department of Water and Sanitation told a ministerial interactive session on transformation in Boksburg on 15 February.

That is three times more than South Africa’s total current household usage. At 237 litres per day, which is what the DWS states is average household use, the 14.5 million households (2011 census figure) use over 1,250 billion litres per year. To this must be added agricultural, industrial and business use.

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