Stories written by Patrick Burnett

SOUTH AFRICA: Addressing Water Wastage

How do you fix a leaking pipe?

Sediment washed down from the highlands is filling up dams and river beds along the Orange River. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Neglected Land Washing Away

Damage to wetlands high in Lesotho's Maluti mountains has impacts on the health of the whole of the Orange-Senqu river system.

The wisdom of exporting water-intensive crops from water-scarce regions is under consideration. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

AGRICULTURE: Can South Africa Afford to Export Virtual Water?

Near the banks of the Orange River, farm manager Le Roux Viljoen sends off an SMS to a weather station and receives an almost instantaneous response telling him the temperature, wind direction and estimated evaporation index.

Mining and other heavy water use upstream has badly damaged marshes at the mouth of the Orange River. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Orange River Wetlands Need a Lifetime to Recover

Much of the internationally-recognised wetland surrounding the Orange River mouth has lost its rich green colour. Situated close to long-standing diamond mining operations, the river's mouth has been treated with environmental disregard for decades.

At 185 metres, the Katse Dam wall is Africa's highest. The dam is part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project supplying water to South Africa through a system of huge underground tunnels. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Journey of a Working River: the Orange-Senqu

In the steep valleys of Lesotho's Maluti mountains, women carry yellow plastic buckets of water across fields of dark-brown earth; a group of men form a human chain to pass rocks between them to build a small dam wall across a mountain stream; clothes are being washed in rivers; and men draped in blankets ride donkeys or horses along the roadside.

Thamae: 'ORASECOM provides a platform with which the countries can discuss and consult on the best way of addressing disparities.' Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

Q&A: Regional Prescriptions for Water Management

The Orange-Senqu River has a one million square kilometre basin that covers Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The water it provides is crucial to industry in South Africa, but is also relied on by farmers and domestic users.

Maternal, neonatal, and child health services in South Africa still fail poor women and children, recent research says. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Redouble Efforts to Reduce Maternal Mortality

For Katriena Anthony, being four months pregnant comes with hazards particular to her living conditions.

If he had more land, household gardener Ishmael Shiki would grow potatoes and onions to make more money. Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

AGRICULTURE: Piecing a Living Together In Rural South Africa

It's early spring in the fertile Breede River farming region, with the fruit orchards a blur of pink blossoms and the first green shoots starting to sprout in the vineyards, but for household gardener Ishmael Shiki it's been a bad start to the growing season.

Mers Klaase has been fishing in Doring Bay since 1968, but struggles to make a living. "The problem is the law. How can you make money if you cannot sell your fish?" Credit:  Patrick Burnett/IPS

ENVIRONMENT: Fighting for the Right to Fish

"When my belly is crying I must fill it. I can sit on the side of the road and beg for bread, but there is the bread right there," says Hahn Goliath, a fisherman in the small village of Doring Bay on South Africa's West Coast, as he points furiously at the Atlantic Ocean.


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