South Africa has been facing a severe drought which has brought critical water shortages and has taken a huge toll on their agriculture. Their economy is struggling because their major commodities include fruit, wine, vegetables, livestock, meat, dairy, and field crops such as wheat, which all need water. Drought’s are very difficult for any country but are even more difficult for countries like Africa who are already struggling in a very unstable economy. The long term impact of these droughts could be disastrous because if they continue having a consecutive loss of crops, they could become bankrupt.
This could then lead to the abandonment of agriculture entirely.
Food aid agencies typically buy surplus corn from South Africa to provide aid to other South African countries. However, this year, estimates show that South Africa may not have enough corn for its own needs. These food aid agencies are not able to purchase as much supplies either because the price of corn and and other products have increased dramatically.
Along with a budget constraint, the food programs have already been forced to cut their rations down. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) reports that less land has been planted in corn than at any time in the past fifty years. As a result, Mbeki, South Africa’s President, has declared six of the country’s nine provinces as disaster areas, because of this the South African Cabinet pledged around $72 million for drought relief.
The impact of this drought is also causing people to lose their jobs.
Statistics state that between 30,000 and 70,000 people have already lost their jobs because of the drought. Mainly seasonal workers have lost their jobs because they cannot plant their crops if they do not have any water. Agriculture is one of South Africa’s largest businessess, they rely on crops such as apples and pears to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per year to support their economy. Without water, their economy is not succesful. Most people lose their jobs and money is a huge factor to having a successful economy. Without water, they have no money. Business owners are also struggling because they cannot afford to hire employees. Not having employees means that their businesses will not run, so they are forced to close and are out of business.
Not only is the drought affecting the lives of the farmers, but is also impacting everyday citizens. Many of these people plant gardens by their houses so they can grow their own food to feed and support their families. Although, with the current drought they are not able to have enough food for their families because every garden usually has an irrigation system to water the plants. The families who are no longer able to grow their own food are also struggling because they do not have enough money to purchase staple foods because the prices have skyrocketed. This is because of the drought and also because of South Africa’s weak currency.
In conclusion, South Africa is facing extreme difficulties because of these reaccuring droughts. People’s lives are at stake, the economy is falling apart, agriculture is slowly disappearing, and yet there has been little to no change in their economy. Governments in the region can help to prevent more droughts from occuring by investing more money into irrigation and water conservation, using drought resistant seeds, and even moving away from crops that need a lot of water such as corn, and start having crops that require a lot less water. It is very important to do these things now because the next time a drought happens, it could be too late.