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National priority status will assist service provision.

Municipalities in the Northern Cape have consistently struggled to supply good services to citizens. With the declaration of the entire province as a Priority Human Settlements Development Area by the national department of Human Settlements, this situation could improve.

The Provincial Government of the Northern Cape has also introduced GovChat, a social media platform that should increase the level of public participation in local government. It is hoped that this will improve the delivering of services such as clean water and sanitation at municipal level. Progress has been made in terms of fixing leaking and burst water pipes and dealing with major blockages in the sewerage system.

Six municipalities have been identified for the eradication of informal settlements. Land has been purchased on the N12 near Kimberley where houses will be built once provision for bulk capacity has been made.

A major obstacle in the municipalities of Sol Plaatje, Phokwane, Tsantsabane, Dawid Kruiper, Gamagara and Ga-Segonyana is the lack of bulk water and sanitation facilities. Ring-fenced funding in terms of the Division of Revenue Act has been approved.

Two of South Africa’s great rivers meet in the Northern Cape at a point south-west of Kimberley. After absorbing the Vaal River, the Orange River (pictured) continues westwards to the Atlantic Ocean and provides the basis for agriculture along its path.

North of Kimberley, the confluence of the Vaal and the Harts rivers encompasses one of South Africa’s most intensely irrigated areas. The Vaalharts irrigation system is one of the most productive in the country, covering about 38 000 hectares with a variety of crops. The scheme is the subject of a governmental feasibility study regarding upgrades and expansion prospects. Two of South Africa’s biggest dams, the Gariep and Vanderkloof, also provide water for irrigation and hydro-electric power. Many parts of the province are dry with sections of the north and north-west classified as semi-arid and arid. The southern Kalahari Desert receives rain but the fact that mining is a primary economic activity in the dry regions of the province presents many challenges. The town of Kuruman is an exception in that it has a natural and prolific spring, the Eye of Kuruman.

One of the major private suppliers of water in the province is Sedibeng Water. Sedibeng Water’s Central Laboratory, based at Balkfontein near Bothaville, is accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS). A new laboratory has been built to monitor the quality of water at the revamped Vaal Gamagara scheme. The laboratory’s four sections cover Instrumentation, Wet Chemistry, Sewage and Microbiology. ■


National Department of Water and Sanitation: www.dwa.gov.za South African Association of Water Utilities: www.saawu.org.za Water Research Commission: www.wrc.org.za SECTOR INSIGHT A large irrigation scheme may be expanded.

Credit: Upington.co.za