Higher temperatures and diminished rainfall, which experts have attributed to climate change are wreaking havoc across many of South Africa’s provinces. The drought is the most extreme since the start of the 20th century and there are no signs of improving conditions. As of 13 March 2018, the drought has been declared a national state of disaster, this declaration means that drought relief efforts will be able to access an allocation of R 6 billion from the National Budget for the 2018/2019 financial year.

While allocation of funds is a welcomed step to boosting water infrastructure investments, it must be stated that in the face of this growing crisis, South African leaders need to restrain themselves from the Zuma administrations allegiance to the country’s water guzzling coal sector – which generates millions of metric tons of climate changing emissions that intensify South Africa’s warming and drying.

350Africa, in collaboration with Life After Coal (LAC), is calling on the Development Bank of Southern Africa to commit to not financing Thabametsi, a proposed new coal-fired power plant in Lephalale, Limpopo. Thabametsi is 1 of 12 coal-fired plants considered under the Independent Power Producers Programme in South Africa and will be situated in an area where the Medupi and Matimba power station already exists. Over 45 kilometres of the pipeline has been installed and another 160km proposed to tap into water resources from the Crocodile and Mokolorivers. A new water augmentation project will be developed for the Thabametsi power plant as water from the lower Mokolo river which would normally run on the Eastern side of Lephalale is not flowing.

In Lephalale, farmers and other rural residents are locked in battles to protect water supplies from new power plants, as well as from plans to expand mining in the Waterberg Coalfield. Thabametsi should not be allowed to go ahead as it will have irreversible impacts in an area where the Water and Sanitation Department rated water security as ‘high risk’ because supply only just meets demand at present.  

Ahmed Mokgopo – Campaigner for 350Africa.org

Public and private financial institutions including the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) need to be persuaded to break ties with the coal sector, which exacerbates the water crisis and threatens the well being of frontline communities. The DBSA’s vision is to deliver on inclusive growth and eliminate poverty – funding Thabametsi would be a reckless abandonment of the bank’s mission to promote sustainable use of scarce resources, including water.