Water utilization and population demography in South Africa: key ethical and human rights issues

Mugabi, Brian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Access to sufficient water is a constitutionally recognized right in the Republic of South Africa as well as being a Universal Human Right. Despite this however, the world wide population numbers are ever growing and water is known to be finite. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights gives South African citizens the right to reproductive choices. South Africa is a water stressed country, with three forces feeding into availability of freshwater, namely; climate change, demographic factors, and policies. Currently, the problem of accessing safe freshwater is under question. This is presents a problem as the Constitution also addresses the right to a healthy environment. Uncontrolled population growth is detrimental to environmental integrity. It is arguable as to whether it is possible to conserve the environment, and at the same time realize human reproductive rights as envisioned in the Constitution. In this research report I reflect on the state of water and environmental resources in view of the right to procreate. I suggest that environmental education could play a major role in finding “the right balance”.
MMed,Bioethics and Health Law, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
water, human rights, ethics, demography, population