Stakeholders propose partnerships to address water woes
by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH African government and the private sector have been urged to work together to solve the looming water crisis caused by harsh weather conditions around the country.
The call came in Johannesburg when stakeholders converged to explore strategies of conserving water and prevent a catastrophe.
Participants at the one-day workshop sponsored by Coca-Cola South Africa argued unless there was no proper mechanism to address water challenges, the problem would worsen across the country.
Among stakeholders that participated at the workshop include the Department of Water and Sanitation, water agencies, local municipalities, farmers organisations, nongovernmental organisations, human rights groups
as well as businesses.
Several speakers called upon the government to increase partnerships to avert the crisis.
Vaal Environment Justice founder, Samson Mokoena, said the main problem affecting the country today, particularly in Gauteng Province, was due to the provincial government working in isolation from water agencies, while communities where water catchment areas emanated were rarely consulted.
“Water is an essential commodity that should be jealously guarded by all of us. With the drought starring at us, we might end up seeing farmers, municipalities, government and local communities fight over water yet when
we work together to address the challenges in a transparent manner, we always come with solutions without blaming one another,” said Mokoena.
Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Regional Manager for Southern Africa, Dr Mark Dent, urged water users and managers to be responsible to protect and enhance freshwater resources for people and nature.
He said the looming drought currently threatening viability in South Africa was affecting the entire African continent, thus, water stakeholders should be responsible in their use of to enhance environmentally sustainability.
Dent said the environmentally sustainable use of water would maintain biodiversity and ecological processes at the watershed level.
“The main problem we are facing at the moment is that we are not getting the good picture of who are the actual players in the water industry. My message to the stakeholders in the water sector, please stop hiding the
information, make all players in the water management known to one another in order to find lasting solution,” said Dent.
However, Sylvia Leabile of SSIS Pipeline Services, a piping firm, accused South African municipalities of failing to replace warn-out water pipes she claimed were the main cause of water shortage in many municipalities.
She said some equipment used in the provision of water were outdated.
Leabile said most municipalities had their water pipes installed more than 60 years ago.
“These pipes urgently needed attention or complete overhaul. These water pipes underground have been in existence for more than 60 years, and such they require a complete overhaul. Worse still, most of the pipes have
leaks hence losing millions of litres of water undetected,” said Leabile.
She said worn-out infrastructure such as water pipes, lack of water pipe maintenance as well as lack of new technology to detect water bursts in the cities worsened the problem.
“These water pipes have been installed long back! Worse still, we don’t even know the engineers who designed those infrastructure, so we keep piling pressure to old infrastructure resulting in water leaks, bursts and other associated water loses,” Leabile said in a interview with CAJ News Africa.
Dhesigan Naidoo, Chief Executive Officer for Water Research and Sanitation, who urged investment into more water reservoirs such as dams, water infrastructure and technology.
Deputy Director-General in the Department of Water and Sanitation, Anil Singh, said the government was willing to partner with the private sector and the public to conserve water.
The looming drought phenomenon recently saw government collaborate with churches to convene a prayer summit.
“Water is critical resource and as such, we call upon all stakeholders, corporate world and business to partner the government in conserving the water. Water consumers and users must use the commodity responsibly,” Singh said.
The impact of the drought is felt across the country.
In some provinces such as KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo and North West, the respective governments have since begun ferrying water to thousands of drought-prone communities.
Water rationing has not been ruled out in major cities such as Johannesburg and Pretoria.
– CAJ News
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