Dr Amos Apraku
Achieving water security has always been a goal of human society and remains a central challenge for many of the world’s poorest countries today. This sentiment is echoed by the South African Water Research Commission, which asserts that the ready availability of safe and affordable water is a crucial way of guaranteeing a clean, healthy, and productive life for all. Despite the international and national standards set to measure the quality of water in South Africa as embedded in the definition of water security, the sources of water and its ‘quality standards’ in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape remain a major concern to scholars and development practitioners. It is against this background that this paper brings together the results of a mixed-methods study conducted in selected rural communities in the province. The study reveals that most rural residents in the province still access water from dams, rivers, and streams for varied domestic and non-domestic purposes. It further found that the availability of water in safe sources throughout the year is not guaranteed due to changing weather conditions, and that both humans and livestock drink water from the same sources. On the basis of these and other findings, the paper interrogates how the intersection of climate change and politico-administrative negligence compounds water poverty in South Africa’s rural communities.