Minister Gugile Nkwinti today launched the Development Cooperation of Partners Platform as part of the Department of Water and Sanitation's (DWS) commemoration of World Water Day 2019 themed "Leaving no one behind, Water for all."
The launch took place in Pretoria at the Sheraton Hotel wherein a Media Networking Breakfast discussing Water Stewardship and Water Quality in South Africa was addressed by global and national experts in the water sector.
"A resolution to the thousands of informal settlements that stretch along South Africa's rivers must be considered in order to deal with the problem of rampant water pollution in the country", Minister Gugile Nkwinti of Water and Sanitation, said this morning.
He singled out pollution as the biggest threat to the country's water quality.
Speaking at the Media Networking Breakfast to celebrate World Water Day in Pretoria, Minister Nkwinti said it was about time there was behavioural change and the reshaping of thinking towards water issues among communities. The communities needed to be trained and informed for them to understand the importance of water quality
"We need a major construction programme to remove communities that have built informal settlements along our rivers," Minister Nkwinti said.
He said he had tasked senior managers in the DWS to visit different areas in the country to establish the quality of water whose results should be shared with the Water Research Commission (WRC). WRC is a parastatal of the department that specializes in research on water and sanitation issues.
Dr Desighen Naidoo, Chief Executive Officer of the WRC, identified polluted water as among the world's top five commodities that posed a serious threat or risk to the global economy. Big businesses were among the biggest polluters who dumped untreated effluent into the rivers, Naidoo said.
He said municipalities therefore must invoke the National Water Act to start billing big businesses for polluting the country's rivers. Water re-use and recycling would play an important role of assuring South Africa of its water security. He welcomed DWS' policy to establish Catchment Water Agencies in the country's nine provinces
By 2030 South Africa would be faced with a likelihood of a 40% gap between demand Christine Colvin of World Wide Fund (WWF) said municipalities had an unenviable task of delivering good quality water to their communities. She appealed to all water stakeholders to help DWS to overcome the challenge of service delivery of water and sanitation. WWF supported the department's National Water and Sanitation Master Plan that gives guidance to the solution of the country's water and sanitation challenges, in line with the National Development Plan (RSA's Vision 2030), and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal - 6 intent of sustainable delivery of water and sanitation to communities globally by 2030.
Also speaking during the launch of the Development Cooperation of Partners Platform was Dr Cryton Zazu of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), who gave a progress report on the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG-6). Dr Zazu impressed upon the role of African countries in working towards achieving Goal 6 which calls for clean water and sanitation for all.
"Although only one in five countries globally are yet to convey progress towards achieving SDG 6, two African countries, namely South Africa and Botswana, have shown significant progress in this regard," said Dr Zazu.
World Water day 2019 proves that the critical role of water as a key driver towards all socio-economic development cannot and should not be undermined. Good quality water is not just good for drinking and cooking but has overall positive impacts on the health and hygiene of not just communities but the environment as well.
Issued by: Department of Water and Sanitation