Scientists and entrepreneurs have developed solutions to South Africa’s most pressing problems that have been aggravated by the drought conditions prevailing all over our country. Israel, for example, has for years had to deal with scarce water and its innovations are readily and cheaply available to South Africa. Of course, these solutions need to be tested in our environment and proven, but there is a lack of political will to do so.

With dwindling water resources, prevention of evaporation from dams is imperative. Evaporation has always been accepted as a fact of nature that can’t be controlled or reduced. Well the good news is that it can be reduced by 90% by covering the surface with balls. This solution can even be used for fish ponds as the absorption of oxygen into the water is not restricted.

In South Africa our sewerage plants are dysfunctional, which results in spillage and fouling of our already limited rivers. The existing number of sewerage plants is inadequate and not keeping up with population growth, also resulting in pollution of groundwater. Well again Israel has cheap, environment-friendly solutions to treat sewerage waste which produces water suitable for many uses, and which uses almost no electricity — the limited electricity used is produced by off-the-grid biogas.

City of Cape Town municipality achieved just over 5% usage of recycled water from its sewerage plants which produce non-potable water that can be used to irrigate municipal parks and gardens. In Israel, the figure is 75% of sewerage is recycled for use in irrigation and even fish farming.

Like South Africa, until recently almost all of Israel’s electricity was generated from coal. While we still depend heavily on coal, Israel has migrated in almost no time at all to gas. It is environmentally cleaner and cheaper.

Drought will reduce crops drastically and food aid might be necessary for large swathes of our country. By growing crops in greenhouses the risks of unforeseen weather can be eliminated. Again in this field Israel leads the world and Israeli companies are already changing the face of agriculture all over Africa.

Irrigation technology, from computers, to sprinklers, drippers and filters have already revolutionised the way food is produced. These innovations reduce risks and optimise the use of water, fuel and labour.

Israeli municipalities have control rooms that can identify where pipes are leaking or where plants need to be watered. Israel leads the world in remote actuation of irrigation valves and even security systems.

If the ruling party and our government were truly committed to serving the needs of our people and were less blinded by political considerations they would be visiting Israel and establishing bilateral relations with Israeli companies and research facilities. By promoting and subscribing to the boycott of Israel narrative, South Africans are worse off and our real challenges by not being addressed will need to be faced by future generations.


Ben Levitas

Ben Levitas

Ben studied at Wits, the Hebrew University, London School of Economics and University of Pretoria. He has two master’s degrees and has written four books on anthropology. He was the founding member of...

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