• too little too late?
A heavy thunderstorm covering most of the southern parts of the country on Tuesday night has brought hope and smiles to residents of the Greater Gaborone area, after a long dry spell. Notwithstanding the pounding hailstones and the thunderous lightning throughout the Tuesday night it was all smiles on Wednesday morning as multitudes gathered on the banks of Metsimotlhabe river to marvel at the floods forming from the downpour upstream. The scene was like people were shocked at the sight of water for the first time. Commuters on their way to work stopped to take pictures and video clips of the floods, while some elderly women from the village ululated in jubilation at the turbulent water flowing by. Such reaction from the public, mirrors the desperation that has consumed the population in the southern parts of the country for many years.
Heavy taffic formed along the A12 Highway on the Metsimotlhabe bridge as motorists parked their vehicles to witness the spectacle last seen over a year ago. "If only this water was re-directed to Gaborone dam to rescue the situation in the city," remarked Kabelo Mokgosi, a commuter on the A12 in reference to the failed dam, which used to be the main source of water for the city. But such happiness may be short lived as weather systems experts at the Meteorological Services department have already warned that most parts of the country, especially in the south and Kgalagadi, will experience below normal rainfall. To address water supply challenges, and to augment WUC efforts to meet demand, the corporation has encouraged members of the public to preserve water and put up measures in place to harvest rain water during the rainy season because "Botswana oa kgala".
With frequent disruptions in supply, which in some places went on for months as Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) struggled with the maitenance of the North South Carrier, residents had resigned themselves to accepting the acute shortage of water as the new normal. Some had resorted to unorthodox sources, while others had turned running taps in their homes into lucrative businesses selling water to neighbours in desperate need of potable water. Some in Mogoditshane township on the outskirts of Gaborone, who could not afford to buy water everyday, risked their lives by fetching water from an abandoned quarry in their neighbourhood for use in their households.
Government, on the other hand has already declared a drought and advised farmers to avoid ploughing crops that need too much moisture to germinate and grow. A number of subsidies have also been introduced for drought power, farming implements, seeds, fertilisers and livestock feed to support farmers. A number of tractors could be seen on the road heading out to farmlands on Wednesday. "I want to take advantage of these first rains to plant at the earliest. I have already prepared the soil for planting by ploughing earlier. Who knows it may just be that the situation will not be that bad in my area," said an optimistic tractor owner, Obusitswe Rangaane of Monwane lands in Kweneng West, who has registered for ISPAAD-government's Intergrated Support Pragramme for Arable Agriculture Development.