March 22nd, 2016

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Johannesburg – 21st of March, South Africans commemorated human rights day. 22nd of March is World Water Day, a day where globally the world takes a step back to assess water use, access and pollution.

Both these days are vital for basic human rights and communities directly impacted by climate change. 350Africa is declaring the continued use of water for new coal mines and power stations a violation of our basic human rights.

Globally the world is facing a water challenge.  South Africa is not spared from struggling with water scarcity. Research indicates in the coming decades the country will face a significant water crisis which impacts negatively on the lives of millions across the country.

Coal mining endangers the lives of mineworkers, pollutes communities and destroys ecosystems. Air pollution affects people’s quality of living. It results in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), lung cancer, asthma and increase respiratory infections.

“Governments, private and financial sectors whom have interest in coal energy are making decisions and choices at the expense of access to scarce water resources,’’ says Amir Bagheri, 350Africa Break Free campaigner.

The expansion of mines is threatening the socio-economic and ecological livelihood of our country. “Instead of ensuring that people have access to clean, safe and reliable water, government has prioritised water for polluting industries and is allocating money to industrial projects such as Medupi and Kusile,” continued Bagheri. It is estimated that Kusile will use 26.15 million m3 of water per year. Continued droughts in the region show that this should not be considered as a feasible nor sustainable project.  

The water – energy nexus deprives society of human well being and prosperity as the region is already water stressed.  “The continued dependence on coal when renewable energy is available, will have  serious implications on the quality and quantity of water – a resource we cannot gamble with” say Ferrial Adam – 350Africa Team Director.

350Africa calls for transparency and accountability in the water energy sector. The expansion of the coal mining industry must be seen as  a basic human rights issue.   Communities across the regions experience severe water shortages and extremely high demand for the scarce commodity as more resources are allocated to mining infactrustrues.

“Government is ensuring that profit driven mining companies are exempt from their constitutional responsibility to prevent further deterioration of the environment and of rehabilitating mining areas in which they operate. There are numerous mines that are operating without a legal water licence and nothing is being done to stop this.”

Join our worldwide escalated mobilisation calling for an end to the fossil fuel era.  The Break Free from Fossil Fuels coalition will be embarking on days of action that want to speed up the just transition to renewable energy and wants to stop corruption and dirty deals prevalent in the coal and mining industry. Climate justice demands transparency in the dealings of these industries and is calling for moratorium on new mines across the region.


To take part in the days of action:

BreakFree South Africa

Greenpeace- Hungry Coal Report


Lerato Letebele;; +27 339 1035; +27 76 562 4895