Note to Editors: the following remarks were delivered by the MEC for the Department of Cooperative Goverance and Traditional Affairs in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal at the World Water Day Summit held at the Durban ICC, This event was attended by the Minister for Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane and various officials from the United Nations
It is with great humility that I have the opportunity to address you at this very important occasion, as we enter the second day of our World Water Day celebrations, which included the Global Launch yesterday by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, of the UN World Water Development Report 2017 whose theme is “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”.
Hosting this global water dialogue in South Africa pertinent for a number of reasons including among others, South Africa’s celebration of Human Rights month, where we reflect on the progress we are making in realizing the rights of all our citizens including the right to water and sanitation as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the bill of rights in the South African constitution.
Furthermore, we all recall, the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 passed a resolution recognizing the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights. Therefore, this gathering is in line with efforts to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal number 6 target on improving and halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.
Programme Director, we believe that there is value in tapping on wastewater as this can result in widening the water mix in the midst of dwindling fresh water in a water scarce country like South Africa. Increasing water mix is nolonger an option but a socio economic imperative that can transform economies of the developing world and reposition the waterwaste industry to play a pivotal role increasing the much needed jobs.
The summit underscores the importance of cooperation among all key stakeholders when it comes to issues such as scarcity of water, climate change and, most crucially in the context of this summit, the reuse of waste water. The summit is an example of our smooth running intergovernmental relations. As co-organisers, we at KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs have worked closely with the national Department of Water and Sanitation to make this summit a great success. The multitude of speakers and the scope of their contributions testify to this.
Programme Director, Pursuit of a sustained supply of potable water to every citizen of our Province, at optimal efficiency and with maximum cost benefit, is a collective effort between all the role-players in the water and sanitation sector.
Large parts of our country, and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, remain in the grips of the most severe drought. The costs, in social and economic terms, have still to be counted. This challenge brought the necessity of harnessing all available resources and the need for innovation into sharp and immediate focus.
We are indeed blessed, in KwaZulu-Natal, with brilliant minds, unwavering passion and, in particular, excellent relationships between a range of contributors in the water sector. Our three spheres of government primarily the Department of Water and Sanitation, our Provincial Government, Municipalities, Traditional Leaders, our Water Boards and our Water Service Authorities have been working closely together for many years. The bonds and co-operation have strengthened all stakeholders pulled together to manage and contain the ravages of water shortages.
In place, we have formal institutional structures, like the Premiers’ Co-ordinating Forum, our Provincial Water and Energy Forum, our Action Working Group 14, which deals with water services and energy, regular engagements with municipalities which are Water Services Authorities and our various district IGR for a have seen us successfully implementing a number of programmes, utilizing both conventional and more innovative methodologies, to secure water provision when the resource have been so very scarce.
As the provincial government, we have worked tirelessly to channel targeted funding from the national government to the most drought affected municipalities. Intergovernmental relations have also been key to the success of our multi-pronged approach to drought relief which has included both short- and long-term measures as well as large-scale efforts to boost our future water supplies through borehole drilling, desalination plants, mobile package treatment plants, water tankers and bulk water storage facilities.
We have similarly worked with our municipalities in running targeted awareness campaigns to educate our public about the impact of the current drought and water conservation approaches. I am pleased to report that these campaigns have created a mutual understanding and general acceptance of the need to save water through water restrictions imposed by individual municipalities. During the site tour visits tomorrow you will get to see some of the projects that we are jointly implementing and are practical examples of a partnership at work between our various spheres of government and water services authorities.
It is pertinent to note that women and children are often the most vulnerable when we fail in the area of water security and improved sanitation. There is a greater need to increase our efforts in improving water security and sanitation, and this will in turn improve the right and health of our women and our children – “”Our young generation to come .
We have as a country set for ourselves targets for ensuring universal access to water and dignified sanitation and we are making huge strides.
This World Water Day Summit will likely reveal that effective and efficient policies and sustainable solutions for our increasing difficulty of providing enough water to meet our society’s needs will involve cooperation, innovation and common understanding of the challenges at hand. As a country we constantly remind ourselves that whilst each sphere of government has discrete responsibilities, we share one common vision. In our system of cooperative governance there are inter-linkages between policy making and resource allocation where cooperation gets tested to its limits. Our constitution makes certain functions concurrent – education, health, welfare, housing etc – to name a few. We have learnt many valuable lessons in implementing our intergovernmental relations approach. The story of the practice of co-operative governance in South Africa will still be told but we remain humble about the unfinished business.
As we renew our collective commitments for water security and sanitation, we must understand that working together will remain our winning formula. Drawing implementation of the Millennium Development Goals articulated in the year 2000, Africa cannot allow a time lag before Member States, intergovernmental agencies and regional mechanisms, experts, and civil society business and citizen get into action regarding the implementation of the SDG goals.
I would like to encourage all of us to hold hands and ensure that we place water security and sanitation at the heart of all our actions. Let us also commit to work with our partners and different institutions to strengthen the institutionalization of a harmonised monitoring and reporting system to report on actions taken to implement these commitments.
In conclusion, I applaud the AMCOW, UN Agencies, our various agencies in South Africa for working in collaboration in organizing this summit.
I thank Honourable Ministers for making arrangements to come to our Beautiful Rainbow Nation and especially for choosing this province and beautiful city of Durban for such a significant occasion. A special word of gratitude goes to our Minister Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, “the woman of action” with a midas touch, she has led us on responding to the many water related questions with outstanding distinction and under her leadership we are moving closer and closer to turning what was considered a far-fetched dream to be a reality and that is reaching universal access to water and sanitation by various municipalities in South Africa.
We will be looking forward to your contributions as we work together and place our focus on supporting the achievement of Africa’s aspiration outlined in the Africa Water Vision 2025, Agenda 2063 and to attain water security and sanitation in the Continent of Africa.