Daily Archives: November 19, 2017

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

Good afternoon, thank you for coming.

**Mediterranean

The Secretary‑General will speak to the Security Council this afternoon about the security challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.  He expects to tell the Council that the Mediterranean region faces serious challenges on multiple fronts, including illicit trade in narcotics, weapons and petroleum products; large movements of refugees and migrants; maritime piracy; and human rights violations.  So far this year, at least 2,800 refugees and migrants have perished in the Mediterranean, while countless others died on their way across the desert.  The Secretary‑General will argue that we need a more effective cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers, while protecting their victims and opening up meaningful opportunities for regular migration.  And right now, as you know Security Council members are holding consultations concerning the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for Syria.

**Bangladesh/Myanmar

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that approximately 620,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 25 August.  The refugees are mostly living in makeshift settlements without adequate infrastructure or services.  As of today, the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Plan has received nearly $140 million, or just under one third of what is actually needed.  Donors have pledged a total of $360 million for the response, and we urge them to disburse these funds as quickly as possible. For its part, the UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] says that, over the past 10 days, it has received reports of some 30 improvised rafts, carrying more than 1,000 people, arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar.

As of today, more than 100 Rohingya refugees are known to have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the start of the crisis, with recent arrivals telling UNHCR that they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar’ shores.  Also, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, wrapped up a visit to Bangladesh.  She said her observations point to a pattern of widespread atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.  Ms. Patten said her office has agreement to develop a framework of cooperation with the Government to strengthen sexual- and gender‑based violence services and programmes.

**Yemen

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, as the blockade by the Saudi‑Led Coalition on Yemen’s Sana’a airport and the country’s main ports in Hodeidah and Saleef is now in its twelfth day, millions of Yemenis continue to require urgent humanitarian assistance to stave off starvation and disease.  The warring parties are obligated under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to all people in need, through all sea ports and airports and throughout the country.  To prevent a health catastrophe, medical supplies need to be imported to contain a new outbreak of diphtheria, which is putting at risk approximately 1 million children.  In addition, fuel is necessary to provide water, but reports say the lack of fuel imports has resulted in three cities shutting down their clean water and sewage systems.  In ten days, there will be no petrol supplies left in the northern parts of Yemen.

**Iraq

Turning to Iraq, our humanitarian colleagues there tell us that preliminary findings of a humanitarian assessment mission to Tal Usquf in Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate have recorded 250 houses as either partially or fully damaged following the military realignment in northern Iraq in the middle of last month.  The primary needs in the area were found to include school rehabilitation, medical equipment, and winterization, such as the supply of heating fuel.  Humanitarian workers continue to struggle with effective access to Tal Usquf, due to the closure of key checkpoints in the area.  Meanwhile, some 4,800 people, who had left in the context of the military realignment, have since returned to the area.  Regarding earthquake recovery near the Iran‑Iraq border, the delivery of humanitarian services and assistance continues, as do assessments in the affected areas.  The Darbandikhan water treatment plant has been found to be operational at only 20 per cent capacity following the quake.  Distribution of water purification tablets and water purifiers is planned to ensure people are not exposed to waterborne diseases.

**Climate Change

Today, the Climate Change Conference in Bonn is coming to an end.  Our colleagues there tell us that this evening countries are expected to adopt a series of decisions that will advance the process of implementing the Paris Agreement.  Some of the announcements made today include a Global Alliance by more than 20 countries to phase out coal, the launch of an initiative to promote clean biofuels; the expansion of a G7 initiative to increase insurance coverage for climate‑related disasters; a $59 million commitment by Germany to help developing countries in their adaptation efforts; and a pledge by the EU to make up any shortfall in funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Going forward, countries will discuss progress made through the newly established “Talanoa Dialogue”, a mechanism to facilitate dialogue among the Parties.  More information on the UNFCCC’s [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] website.

**Cameroon

Our colleagues at the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) said yesterday in a statement that they are concerned about the increase in the number of security incidents in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.  The UN, they say, condemns the use of any form of violence by any party and reiterates its call for calm and restraint.  The UN has continuously stated that the best way to address the situation in the two regions is through a genuine and inclusive dialogue.  The Secretary‑General reiterates the availability of his Special Representative, François Louncény Fall, to assist national efforts in the search for a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.

**Colombia

Turning to Colombia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there tells us they have noted an increase in murders and threats against human rights defenders and community leaders in the Pacific Coast region.  In most cases, the victims are from indigenous and Afro‑Colombian communities.

**El Salvador

Staying in the Southern Hemisphere, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, today wrapped up a visit to El Salvador, the first ever by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He said that, 25 years after the end of the civil war, El Salvador has proven itself to be a functioning democracy that honours freedom of expression and the political discourse there is vibrant.  Moreover, by presiding over the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner said the country has demonstrated its willingness to take a leadership role internationally, along with the responsibilities of being on the Council, which is much appreciated.  The High Commissioner thoroughly condemned the violence perpetrated by gangs and organized crime there.  He took note of the Government’s plan to curb and prevent violence, stressing that it needs to be implemented in a comprehensive way, in accordance with international human rights standards.

**Cambodia

The High Commissioner has also released a statement expressing his grave concern over the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Cambodia next year following the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the main opposition party.

**Antimicrobial Resistance

Our friends at the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and the World Health Organization (WHO) today released a survey which reveals that countries have stepped up their efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance on farms and in food systems.  The survey found that more than 6.5 billion people — or more than 90 per cent of the world’s population ‑ now live in a country that already has, or is developing a national action plan to tackle the issue.  Nearly all of these plans cover both human and animal health in line with the recommended “one health”, multi‑sectoral approach.

**Sustainable Development Goals

A couple of things to flag for you over the weekend and Monday: Over the weekend, in Doha, Qatar, there will be a High‑level Conference to jump‑start 2018 discussions on financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Hosted by Qatar, with the support from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the event will address current challenges in advancing [financing for] the SDGs and implementing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  The results of the Conference will be presented during next year’s high‑level political forum [on sustainable development], which will take place here at UN Headquarters.  More information on Department’s website.

**Children’s Day

On Monday, our colleagues at UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] will host an event here at Headquarters to mark World Children’s Day.  The Secretary‑General will be in attendance along with high‑profile supporters, special guests, and 150 children representing some of the world’s most vulnerable children to speak out to the international community on issues that matter to them.  Some of the participants include:  singers, songwriters and musicians Chloe and Halle, who will debut a specially penned track to mark the day; Isabela Moner from Transformers:  The Last Knight and Nickelodeon; Logan actress Dafne Keen; Jaden Michael, the star of Wonderstruck; and Zari, the star of the local Afghan version of Sesame Street.  There will be a blue carpet photo call from 9 a.m. in the East Foyer which you are all welcome to attend.

**Toilet Day

I also want to flag that Sunday is World Toilet Day.  This year’s theme is wastewater, and it seeks to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.  Today, more than 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.  As in previous years, there will be a giant inflatable toilet in front of the UN Secretariat on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The toilet is installed by UN Water with the support of the Mission of Singapore.

**Press Briefings

Press conferences:  at 9.45 a.m, Monday, you are expected to hear from Danny Danon, the Permanent Representative of Israel.  He will speak to you at the Security Council stakeout.  At 11 a.m. there will be a press briefing right here in this room on the CARICOM [Caribbean Community]‑UN High‑level pledging conference: Building a more Climate‑resilient community.  This is in the aftermath of the terrible hurricanes that struck the Caribbean region.  After I’m done, you will hear from my competitor, Brenden Varma.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I was going to start with… with rosewood, but I have to actually ask you about this… this this François [Louncény] Fall statement.  And the reason I’m… I’m asking is that, as you may know and… and… and five experts of Geneva‑based special rapporteurs, including on freedom of expression, defence of human right defenders and others, issued a statement.  I don’t know… I guess I want to ask you about it.  The statement says… is largely focused on abuses by the Government of Anglophones, censorship, turning off social media.  They have a… a… a death figure.  They talk about torture.  And so I’m wondering.  How is it… how is… I know that they’re not part of the UN system.  They do give briefings in this room.  They are appointed by the Human Rights Council.  What’s the relationship between human rights experts saying the Government is killing Anglophones and François Fall saying territory is important and gendarmes have been killed? It seems like they’re two opposing statements.

Spokesman:  A, I don’t think they’re in contradiction of each other, and everybody has a different role within the wide and varied UN system.  The special rapporteurs, as you do note, are independent from the Secretariat and the Secretary‑General, appointed by the Human Rights Council.  They are an extremely important part of the UN’s human rights mechanism and, as a matter of principle, countries should cooperate with these human rights experts.  I’m not privy to their research or how they get their information.  As I said, they’re independent.  We have over the past months, expressed our concern at the violence.  We’ve expressed our concern at the lack of Internet access.  The basic message that Mr. Fall and that the Secretary‑General have reiterated is the fact that the situation in these two regions will best be addressed by an inclusive and genuine political dialogue.

Question:  Just… thanks.  I want to ask one follow-up.  And I asked you before, but I think you’ll see the need to… to actually… to answer it now.  Mr. François Fall, in an interview played on UN Radio, said that secessionists are extremists and that federalism, which used to be the status of this area, is off the table.  Number one, that’s why people don’t see him as a credible mediator, but more importantly, the equation of nonviolent secessionists with extremists is exactly the logic that the Government uses to kill people from… from helicopter gunships, so that’s why I’m asking you.  It seems like some of the problems that the human rights experts are criticizing are, in fact… I don’t want to say caused by Mr. Fall’s statement, but in some way resonant with the logic of… of saying that anyone that says we should be independent is an extremist and should be shot at from a helicopter.

Spokesman:  I don’t agree with your logic, and I don’t think in any way, shape, or form Mr. Fall should be blamed for what is going on in the country.  Yes, sir?

Question:  On the JIM Mechanism… is… is the Secretary‑General disappointed by yesterday’s vote and what’s the expectations from today’s consultations?

Spokesman:  Well, our understanding is that there are consultations going on.  We’ve seen the press reports, as you have, of some sort of a draft resolution calling for a technical rollover.  It’s obviously up for the Security Council to decide on the fate of the JIM, which operates under its mandate.  I think the Secretary‑General has been very clear from the beginning about the importance of the work of the JIM, especially in assigning… excuse me, let me take that again.  The importance of the work of the JIM, especially in terms of accountability and setting accountability for the horrendous use of chemical weapons that we have seen in Syria.  But at this very moment, it’s in the hands of the Security Council.  And the shelf life of the JIM, if unchanged, ends at midnight tonight, if I’m not mistaken.  Stefano?

Question:  Yes, about Libya.  Yesterday, there was the Security Council meeting on Libya, and today, the Italian Foreign Minister, I know, is going to meet also the Secretary‑General.  Just three days ago, the High Commissioner for Human Rights was saying he had… had a very strong critic on the policy of the European Union on… on the agreement that they reached with Libya to hold the migrants, because the situation of those camps, he said that it’s inhumane and the situation is getting worse instead of better.  So there was just a press conference with the Italian Foreign Minister.  I asked the question what is his… what is his reaction to this critic? And he said that… that Italy is doing anything possible.  He’s also helping the UN agency, and then he said… in Italian, he said… “più buona azione e meno lezione.”  Rough translation is, “more good action and less lecture”.  Now, what is the reaction to something like this? I mean, it looks like Italy…

Spokesman:  Listen, I… my knowledge of Italian is good, but I will not delve into the subtleties of commenting on something I haven’t heard.  I think the UN system has expressed its concern at the fate of the people who are stuck in Libya, migrants and refugees.  We have seen horrendous reports come out.  There’s been talk of slavery and of just horrendous conditions, and these things need to be addressed.

Question:  Just a quick follow‑up on that specific question.  What do you think about what, for example, Filippo Grandi had to say we are here, but there are not the security conditions yet to be able to run those… those camps? What does the General Secretary think?  Are the conditions of security…

Spokesman:  We’re not going to second‑guess the High Commissioner for [Refugees] in terms of when he says what the conditions are needed in order for him to deploy more people on the ground.  That’s his call, and it’s up to him to decide.  The Secretary‑General is not going to second-guess him.  Our efforts, through Mr. [Ghassan] Salamé, is on creating a political solution… working with the Libyan parties to move forward on a political solution to create the conditions that will restore peace and stability to the country.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  Actually, just one… first, a follow‑up on the JIM thing.  I don’t know if you’ll answer it or not, but I did notice that between the two resolutions yesterday, you were… you went into the Council, which is obviously your right, well within your rights.  I just wanted… I guess I’m interested.  Was it within the capacity of knowing whether it would pass so the Secretary‑General could… could report on it?  Just in what capacity…?

Spokesman:  No, I… the Secretary‑General doesn’t rely on his spokesman to find out what’s going on in the Security Council.

Correspondent:  That’s why I’m asking.  That’s why it was interesting.

Spokesman:  I go in because I have the privilege to be able to go into the room and once in a while, I like to go into the room and soak up the atmosphere and see what’s going on.

Question:  Okay.  Fair enough, fair enough.  Yesterday, I had asked you about… about some questions about this rosewood situation, and I want to say that yesterday, there were 46,000 people petitioning for the Secretary‑General.  Now, there’s 62,000.  But you had said to me, go and read Le Monde, so I did read Le Monde, and… and there’s no mention of Cameroon in it, but, in fact, in the report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, there is… and in other reports, there are talk that some of these logs don’t over come from Nigeria, which would make them outright illegal, signing any certificate for their export.  So, I wanted to… this is the kind of thing I would like to ask Amina Mohammed if she did a press conference, just what did she know about… I’m sure there’s answers.  I’m sure there’s many things that could be said.

Spokesman:  Next time she’s in front of the press, she will be… she has engaged with journalists who have written stories on this and has not been hiding from anything.  Quite to the contrary.  We have said what we’ve had to say.  I think any further questions on how this issue is dealt with should go to the Nigerian Government.

Correspondent:  But just so you know, the petitioners are not writing to the Nigerian Government.  They’re saying that there’s inconsistencies…

Spokesman:  I’ve answered the question about the petitioners.

Question:  This is kind of a related question that you may or may not like, but there’s a lot of interest by… by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in a… in a… in a move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end what’s called an embargo on logging, or an embargo on new, you know, industrial logging concessions.  And so people… I could imagine a UN body or the Secretariat itself, since it relates to climate change, might have a position on this.  Sorry to ask you, but given the 62,000 signatures, would Amina Mohammed, otherwise, you know, responsible for sustainable development on many issues, would she be recused from deciding the Secretariat’s position on logging matters until this logging matter is cleaned up?

Spokesman:  You’re jumping over conclusions that, I think, that have… over facts that have been an Olympic record.

Correspondent:  Read the petition.

Spokesman:  I’m not talking about the petition.  I’m talking about your… the logic within your question.  I think Amina Mohammed has, in her past capacity, in her current capacity, has been a very strong advocate against illegal logging and has shown that through her actions.  Thank you.

15 Dead, 5 Hurt in Stampede for Food Aid in Morocco

RABAT A stampede in a southern Moroccan village left at least 15 people dead and five others injured Sunday as food aid was being distributed, the Interior Ministry said.

The crush took place in Sidi Boulalam, in the province of Essaouira, as a local association was distributing food aid in a local weekly “souk,” or market, the ministry said in a statement.

King Mohammed VI has given instructions that “all measures be taken to help the victims and their families,” the ministry said. The king will pay for the hospitalization of the wounded and the burials of the dead, according to the statement.

Alyaoum24.com, a local and reliable news website, reported that people were rushing for food aid whose value was about $16 per person.

The mayor of the nearby city of Essaouira, Hicham Jbari, told The Associated Press that the tragedy’s victims have been transported to his town’s hospital. The village of Sidi Boulalam is about 60 kilometers from the city of Essaouira.

Distributions of food aid are common in the North African nation, notably in remote parts of the country. They are organized by private sponsors and groups as well as by the authorities.

Often held once a week in rural areas of Morocco, the souks are usually very busy places. People from nearby villages come to the markets to buy food and others items for a week.

A drought has greatly hurt agricultural output in Morocco recently, contributing to the high cost of basic food items.

Source: Voice of America

HEAVILY ARMED MEN GUN DOWN FIVE PEOPLE IN SHOPPING COMPLEX IN SOUTH AFRICAN TOWN

EMPANGENI, South Africa, A group of heavily armed gunmen shot and killed five people and injured two more when they stormed the Vulindlela shopping complex in KwaDlangezwa near Empangeni on Friday evening.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane, said the incident had happened at around 7.20pm on Friday evening.

It is alleged that a group of thugs approached the supermarket and opened fire at security guards and others who were in the vicinity.

“They stole an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing scene. When police arrived they found a vehicle suspected to be used by the criminals idling at the scene, Zwane said.

Zwane said among the victims who died were two security guards who were performing guard duties at the complex, and a bystander who had been sitting in his vehicle.

The supermarket owners were not injured during the robbery, said Zwane.

Charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery were opened at Mthunzini police station for further investigation.

KwaZulu-Natal Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa condemned the attack.

These criminals are merciless and killed innocent people because of their greed. We have tasked seasoned detectives to investigate this case and bring the perpetrates to book. We urge the community at large not to panic and rather direct their anger towards assisting investigators with information that will lead to the arrest of these heartless thugs, he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Skirts Resignation

In a much awaited address to the nation, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe did not resign Sunday, despite calls from his own party to do so.

“We must learn to forgive, and to resolve contradictions in comradely spirit,” Mugabe said in a televised address, noting he acknowledges concerns brought up by the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has given Mugabe until noon Monday to resign or face impeachment.

Mugabe said the events of this week in Zimbabwe are not a threat to the constitution or to his authority as head of state and commander in chief.

But hours before his speech, ZANU-PF installed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe dismissed two weeks earlier, as the party’s new chief.

Party leaders have also expelled Mugabe’s wife, Grace, leader of the ZANU-PF Women’s League, from membership in the ruling party.

Zimbabwe’s military intervened last week, seizing institutions in apparent opposition of Mugabe naming his unpopular wife as his successor, a move many feared would follow Mugabe’s firing of Mnangagwa.

According to Zimbabwe newspaper The Herald, Mugabe met Sunday with military leaders.

Mugabe is expected to make an announcement in the coming hours, as a state television van was seen outside his house, Reuters reported.

Southern African leaders will be discussing the ongoing political crisis in Zimbabwe at a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Luanda, Angola on Tuesday.

Saturday protests

On Saturday, thousands of exuberant Zimbabwean demonstrators flooded the streets of Harare, some of whom marched toward the official residence of Mugabe amid nationwide protests calling for the his resignation.

The protesters � some carrying signs that said, “Mugabe must go!” and “Not coup but cool” � came within 200 meters of the gates to the complex and staged a sit-down protest after being halted by national troops.

The State House is where Mugabe is under official house arrest and where negotiations for Mugabe’s departure have taken place.

“This is not fair. Why are soldiers preventing us to march to the State House,” said 26-year-old Rutendo Maisiri. “It is wrong. We will stay put.”

The military has stopped such demonstrations in the capital in the past, but is now supporting the protests, directing demonstrators to the Zimbabwe Grounds where speeches were made by activists, politicians, and former freedom fighters calling for the president to resign.

The Zimbabwe Grounds is a symbolic location. It is where Zimbabweans welcomed Mugabe’s return from exile in 1980 after the liberation war from white minority rule.

Demands intensify

Members of opposition groups are expressing frustration with the pace of negotiations over Mugabe’s political future.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, told journalists that the protests are designed to push the president out of office.

Former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change party, joined the calls for Mugabe to resign.

Mr. Robert Mugabe must resign, step down immediately in line with the national sentiment and expectation, taking full regard of his legacy and contribution to Zimbabwe, pre- and post-Zimbabwe, said Tsvangirai, who returned to the country last week from South Africa, where he is being treated for cancer.

Mugabe hanging on

There has been no indication Mugabe will voluntarily give up power. Nick Mangwana, who is the Britain-based representative of ZANU-PF, told VOA that, “President Mugabe remains President Mugabe as of now.

Mugabe is the only leader the nation has known since Zimbabwe won independence in 1980, and has turned back many previous challenges to his rule, often using the army, police and physical violence from supporters to intimidate opponents.

His hold appeared strong even as Zimbabwe’s economy, which has struggled for years, suffered a new downturn over the past 12 months. Last December, the ruling ZANU-PF party nominated him as its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections.

The turning point was the firing of Mnangagwa, 75, a liberation war hero who maintains strong support among veterans.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICA: THE DAY A TOWN RAN DRY

BEAUFORT WEST, On the outskirts of Beaufort West, two men jumped for joy and relief after a large fountain of water shot high up in the air as a borehole drill hit clean water 40 metres below the surface.

It was a week after the town’s main water source, the Gamka Dam, finally ran dry.

The two men who stood next to the gushing water were not residents of the Western Cape Karoo town, but Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder of disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers, and Gideon Groenewald, the hydrologist, geologist and palaeontologist whom he roped in to help.

Beaufort West, one of five Western Cape towns worst hit by the drought, is now totally dependent on underground water. The municipality supplements the town’s supply with recycled sewage water.

After the dam ran dry, the town with a population of just more than 34 000 was left with one megalitre of surface water less each day.

The drought is clear for all to see in the town, which is overlooked by a majestic ridge of mountains and covered in earth so parched that even the dwarf shrubs have died.

As Beaufort West edged ever closer to Day Zero � the day that the taps would run dry � the provincial government approached Sooliman and his disaster relief organisation to help.

Groenewald, who has 40 years’ experience in the search for water, was called in to lead the project, which is expected to reduce the agony caused by the drought in the sheep-farming town.

Groenewald said they were racing against time to ensure that there was enough water emanating from boreholes to make up for the 1 million litres a day the town had been pumping out of the Gamka Dam.

Groenewald said that, although there were about 32 existing boreholes around the town that were augmenting its water supply, not all of them were yielding enough water needed to address the shortfall left by the dry dam.

And now, even the groundwater is starting to run out.

Groenewald’s main concern is that the existing boreholes are not deep enough and underground water levels are running low. The reality is that the aquifer [an underground layer of water-bearing rock] has dropped by 20 metres to 40 metres, which means we are now required to drill deeper to get to the water, he said.

Groenewald added that it would take many times more than the average rainfall in the area for the water table to recover.

If it doesn’t rain six times as much by the end of April 2018, the groundwater levels could drop by up to 60 metres, he said.

We do not want things to get to that point, so we need to use the little we have sparingly.

Sooliman said Gift of the Givers had set aside R6 million for the borehole project in Beaufort West.

Drilling commenced on November 1, and thus far, we have drilled 11 boreholes � of which four were collectively offering 350 000 litres of water a day. The aim is to continue drilling until the required minimum amount of 1 million litres a day is achieved to balance the shortfall, he said.

We may go beyond that, but we have to ensure that there is a balance between providing water and ensuring that the aquifers are not depleted in the process.

Beaufort West’s townsfolk seem to know that they have to save water, but many are unaware of how serious the water shortages are.

Resident Nicho Marais appeared oblivious to the crisis surrounding him. His main concern was that the water flow in his taps had slowed to a trickle.

They have shut down the water pressure to get residents to spare it. I know there are problems with water supply, but I am thankful that the taps are still running, even with low pressure, he said.

Another resident, Patrick van Wyk, who works at a filling station in the town, said he had recently heard that the dam had run dry.

I have also seen some water-drilling trucks at work around here. With the dam empty, it will leave us in big trouble if it does not rain and the water is depleted underground, he said.

The other thing is that the community is not well informed of a crisis, if there is any. All I know is that we need to use water sparingly.

Western Cape local government spokesperson James-Brent Styan said the drought situation in the province was very serious.

He said the provincial government had allocated funds for drought relief, including the drilling of boreholes and providing fodder relief for farmers. He said the province had been drilling a number of boreholes around the Western Cape in the past three years, adding: We need more funding from national government … we remain in talks with them.

Although he was unable to provide information and figures about what the provincial government was doing in Beaufort West to alleviate the water crisis, Styan condemned reports that the area had hit Day Zero, saying: There is still lots of underground water in Beaufort West.

Asked if the provincial government had seen the current water crisis situation coming, he said: We can only work on predictions … we were informed of average rainfall that did not happen. This is a terrible drought.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK