Human Health VS. Industry in the Olifants River Basin BY HANNAH BUCKLIN, CLASS OF 2016 The Olifants River Basin is one of the largest basins in South Africa. Nearly 3.4 million people live within the basin and the industrial activities are a major contributor to South Africa’s annual gross domestic product. The mining and agricultural industries found there are necessary for the economic stability in the region. However, concerns are being raised because these activities use huge quantities of water and rapidly pollute the basin waters. Water allocation is a huge issue within the region because there is a struggle between those without access to basic sanitation and companies seeking to maximize their production. Still, the region does not depend on industrial growth alone. If the government fails to develop effective methods of allocating water between human and industrial needs and improving the monitoring of water quality, the Olifants River Basin region will not be able to sustain its current growth and support the South African economy. The Olifants River Basin is located
PENN SUSTAINABILITY REVIEW
How is it that millions of tons of water are delegated to mining, ag- at the southern end of Africa, crossricultural, and energy sectors when a huge portion of the population ing into countries such as South struggles to find enough water to sustain life? The answer to this Africa and Mozambique question seems to lie deep in the history of the region. The population in the basin is racially segregated and is reflective of racial separation that existed during Apartheid. Nearly 94% of the basin’s population is black while the other 6% is white. In total, 67% of the basin’s population lives in rural areas. Additionally, the poorest blacks are densely populated within the Homeland region where 60% of the population lives on only 26% of the total land.
“Water allocation is a huge issue within the region because there is a struggle between those without access to basic sanitation and companies seeking to maxmmze their production.” Despite the majority black population, blacks face immense political and economic disadvantages, as 70% of the population is considered to be living in poverty. This unequal distribution of resources is reflective of the great water disparities and raises many sustainability concerns for this region. If people cannot have access to basic water http://www.iss.co.za/pubs/monographs/no6/conley.html