South Africa has partnered with Iran to develop desalination plants in coastal communities to boost water supplies, the water minister said on Wednesday, as the worst drought in living memory dries dams.
South Africa last year record its lowest annual rainfall levels since comprehensive records began in 1904 as an El Nino-driven drought rips through the region, putting millions at risk of food shortage.
“Now with the partnership that we have entered into through the binational commission between South Africa and Iran we want to go full steam,” Nomvula Mokonyane told reporters.
She said the first investment meeting with Iran, where President Jacob Zuma visited last month, takes place next month and that there were no indicative costs at this stage.
The largest desalination plant in South Africa, which converts salty seawater to drinkable water, is situated in Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape. It helped supply water to state oil company PetroSA’s gas-to-fuel refinery.
“We have been over-dependent on surface water,” Mokonyane said, adding that government would focus on all coastal municipalities in three provinces, including the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
South Africa’s weather woes have been largely attributed to a powerful El Nino system, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that occurs every few years with global consequences.