n IMIESA - Water, South Africa's oxymoron : ageing water & sanitation infrastructure

Volume 41, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0257-1978



The department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is on public record in stating that water has a critical function in the South African economy. That is absolutely correct. With our Q1 2016 GDP coming in at -1.2%, we need everything and everyone working together to turn this negative around. In looking at the DWS's National Water Resource Strategy, a vision and set of strategic actions for effective water management, it speaks the right language. This strategy includes the security of water supply, the prevention of environmental degradation and resource pollution prevention. It goes on to say that a further component of the strategy is the Strategic Water Partners Network of South Africa, which is one of South Africa's most innovative public-private-civil-society sector partnerships. This all makes for good reading, but we need a dose of reality to bring things back into perspective. The World Resources Institute ranks South Africa among the world's 30 driest countries. Currently facing serious water challenges - with ageing water infrastructure, a short supply of technical skills, shifting demand patterns, changing rainfall patterns and the worst drought in 30 years -South Africa is in a pickle. Add to this vandalism and the theft of public infrastructure, non-payment of bills, water loss through a lack of maintenance, poor water services planning and prioritisation at many municipalities, as well as increasing pollution, and the pickle gets a little sharper.It's not a good situation at all.

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