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  • Writer's picturePalesa Moji

Take Action for National Water Week

Water Leak

This week is National Water Week 2024. National Water Week in South Africa is established in alignment with the global World Water Day, an annual observance held by the United Nations on March 22nd. The aim is to spotlight global, regional, and local water issues while advocating for the development of solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: ensuring water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) takes the lead in organising National Water Week in South Africa, in line with and in support of World Water Day. The primary objective is to raise awareness about the significance of freshwater resources and to advocate for their sustainable management.

South Africa faces significant water scarcity challenges owing to its geographical location, and this scarcity has recently escalated to crisis levels due to factors such as water pollution, population growth, and industrialisation. These issues are leading to the stranding of assets across various sectors including coal, electric utilities, metals & mining, and oil & gas. Consequently, water security has evolved from being a mere operational concern at the organisational level to a strategic imperative demanding attention from senior management. (CDP, Planet Tracker Report, HIGH AND DRY HOW WATER ISSUES ARE STRANDING ASSETS: A report commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), May 2022.)

Challenges in Water delivery

The Free Basic Water Policy - a growing struggle

Financing free basic water provision continues to pose a challenge as the government relies on taxes collected from the working class to fund such services. However, with the escalating unemployment rates, corruption, and other socio-economic challenges in South Africa, it is becoming increasingly challenging for the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to provide water to all at current rates.

Approximately 48% of the country's population resides in municipalities with average per capita incomes of less than R720 per month (DPLG, 2000). Consequently, the primary obstacle to implementing the free basic water policy lies in addressing these financial constraints.

Aging Infrastructure and Operational Hurdles

Aging infrastructure, inadequate planning, unaccounted water, insufficient monitoring and oversight of service delivery, and poor quality of workmanship pose significant challenges for municipalities in delivering water to all South Africans. Moreover, unnecessary project delays further exacerbate the situation, leading to unmet or significantly delayed targets. Consequently, many municipalities lose nearly a third of their water supply.

Be the change

South Africa faces unique challenges with water scarcity, pollution, and aging infrastructure. However, National Water Week isn't just about highlighting these issues; it's a chance to explore solutions and celebrate the collective power we hold. Every action, big or small, adds up.

Despite these obstacles, there are numerous initiatives, projects and organisations that work tirelessly to promote water stewardship and alleviate the burden on municipalities.

I have recently joined one such team. AQUAffection represents a group of water stewards who are passionate and caring about water; they do their part daily throughout the year. Through water awareness training and implementing solutions for their clients to reduce their demand, they do what they can to help alleviate the over-demand burdens carried by municipalities. They understand that while one can endure days without food, thirst is something no one can withstand!

Take action this Water Week!

Sign up for Water Matters 101 and join the #SurplusWater2025 community. The course is offered FREE during Water Week. Simply use the access code: WaterWeek24 at checkout.

Together, we can ensure that water remains abundant for present and future generations. Let's act now to safeguard our most precious resource. Take action this Water Week.

Join the movement today!

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