Water crisis will make food prices soar in Nelson Mandela Bay

A farm dam outside Uitenhage is bone dry.
A farm dam outside Uitenhage is bone dry.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The dire water situation in Nelson Mandela Bay - with supply dam levels dropping to below 20% and no real rain expected any time soon - has raised the worrying spectre of soaring food prices.

Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern painted a grim picture on Tuesday of skyrocketing meat prices. He also warned of problems with fruit and vegetable production should the situation continue.

The South African Weather Service has also expressed serious concern‚ with weatherman Garth Sampson saying that this year has been the second driest since 1960‚ with only 114mm of rain so far.

The driest first six months of the year was recorded in 1970‚ when 111mm fell.

The municipality‚ asked about the possibility of stricter water restrictions or higher tariffs‚ initially seemed reluctant to comment‚ with metro spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki first saying an announcement would be made “soon” and then sending out a notice saying it would be made on Wednesday.

Stern said if no rain fell in the near future‚ it would affect the economy drastically‚ with meat prices in particular spiking once again.

“The coastal areas are battling. Areas of great concern are the Hankey and Patensie regions because they fall under the [area fed by the] Kouga Dam‚” he said. The water level of the Kouga Dam is currently at just 7.2% of capacity.