More than 20 towns in the Free State are facing a water crisis, according to a DA study File Picture: Bongani Shibulane/African News Agency

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance on Thursday said there were more than 20 towns in the Free State that either has no water at all, or were experiencing supply disruptions.

Patricia Kopane, DA Free State leader, said a survey conducted by her party also revealed that water coming out of taps in that province was "extremely unhygienic". Businesses, health facilities, schools and ordinary people were all suffering because of the water crises.

The affected towns include: Jacobsdal, Fauresmith, Trompsburg, Frankfort, Villiers, Tweeling, Cornelia, Smithfield, Zastron, Wepener, Dewetsdorp, Dealesville, Brandfort, Theunissen, Winburg, Soutpan, Tweespruit, Marquard, Clocolan, Steynsrus, Fouriesburg, Qwaqwa, Ladybrand, Excelsior, Lindley, Parys, and Koppies.

Kopane said water problems were mainly due to faulty, and often non-functioning, water treatment plants and dilapidated pipes. She said some dams were completely dry.

"It is sad to see women and children being forced to travel long distances in order to draw water using wheelbarrows. This is unacceptable in a 23 year old democratic country where water has been constitutionally declared as a basic need,"  said the DA leader in the Free State..

She said last month the DA met with the South African Human Rights Commission, following numerous complaints regarding water and sanitation in the province.

As far back as 2013, the DA sent a formal demand to the then Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Olly Mlamleli, urging her to come up with a concrete action plan on how this crisis could be resolved.

"To date nothing has been done. Even the current Cogta MEC has not come up with a plan to avert this crisis," said Kopane.

She said the government has not yet shown any commitment in resolving the crisis.

"If the ANC government cared about the people of this province, this crises would have been solved immediately after it arose with prevention measures then set in place to ensure it does not take place again."

Kopane said the DA will not stand by as thousands of poor people are denied the basic services that they are entitled to.  

African News Agency/ANA