by Christine Eusebio

The issue of water has recently become a concern in one of Africa’s wealthiest and most developed nations, South Africa. More and more people from rural villages around the country are moving to the city with the hopes of having a better living situation, so pressure to provide sustainable, clean water for healthy living has increased.

South Africa is home to around 49 million people and is about twice the size of Texas. For many years the country has faced epidemics such as HIV and AIDS. To add to this, water shortage has also recently become an issue.

One of the main reasons this water crisis has spread to South Africa is climate change. According to the, rain has not replenished the nation’s water supply as frequently as it used to. One is example is in Durban, which has experienced 20% less rain this year than in the beginning of 2010. As a result, the surrounding cities have begun imposing water restrictions on communities. Another problem on the rise is stolen water; 35% of the cities’ water is provided via illegal connections.

Because of the increasing demand for safe water and the current shortage, many are turning to bottled water as an alternative to tap water. Just the fact that “tap water” is an option in South Africa demonstrates the stark difference between a water shortage in a developed nation and a water crisis in a country like Niger. Indoor plumbing is nonexistant in rural Niger, and the only potential water source is often an open well, which can dry up and is easily contaminated. The people of rural Niger are not facing a choice between tap and bottled water; they are choosing between dehydration and the diseases that can result from consuming contaminated water.