Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has called for citizens to value water during the annual Stockholm World Water Week official opening.
Sisulu on Monday joined several water ministers across the globe to officially open this year’s session of the Stockholm World Water Week, which is being hosted virtually as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
She said South Africa is still experiencing the imbalance of equal distribution of resources such as water.
“Our country has suffered an imbalance during the dark days, of which many of you know of. The results are so embedded in infrastructure because those who historically had power benefited first, so it will take a bit of time to ensure the benefits reach every corner of the population,” Sisulu said.
Speaking during a ministerial panel discussion with her counterparts from Colombia, the Netherlands and Sweden, Sisulu said the advent of the novel Coronavirus has put a strain on the country’s already ailing water infrastructure.
She, however, said the new dispensation was doing its best to rewrite the wrongs and has improved its efforts to ensure water security for all.
The Minister said since 1994, access to water supply increased from only 55.1% of households having access to 88% in 2019.
“This is a remarkable feat, noting the fact that the population increased from 40.56 million in 1994 to 58.7 million in 2019,” Sisulu said.
As part of the country’s intervention to curb the spread of Coronavirus, the Department of Water and Sanitation has establishment a National Command Centre, which oversees the distribution of water tanks and tankers to communities with dire water challenges.
This is an immediate measure to help address challenges posed by COVID-19.
National Water and Sanitation Master Plan
As part of the long-term interventions, Sisulu said the department will implement the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, which spells out the country’s plan to secure water for all by 2030 and beyond.
The Minister said that the department is working with one of its entities, the Water Research Commission (WRC) to come up with innovative ways to improve the provision of water and sanitation services across the country.
“The South African government is doing its utmost best to ensure that all its population has water. This is an opportune time for all of us to start valuing water, not only in a crisis, but even beyond,” Sisulu said.
World Water Week
World Water Week is organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm, Sweden, on an annual basis. It has been the focal point for global water issues since 1991.
It is foremost a collaborative learning experience, providing a unique forum and opportunity to facilitate the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civil society.