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SA marks water week

by Bathandwa Mbola
on 17 Mar 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

South Africa marks the start of National Water Week on Monday and this year, the emphasis is on sustaining lives and enabling growth.

The theme stems from growing concerns that without immediate intervention, the world might experience a water crisis by 2025.

"The campaign is seen as an awareness week which serves as a powerful campaign mechanism re-iterating the value of water, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role water plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa," said the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.

The week hopes to highlight the contribution that water makes to social and economic development.

"During the National Water Week, the department wants to emphasise the role water plays in sustaining all forms of life in South Africa and the link between water services, water resource management, water quality management, water conservation and water demand management. "

The week also hopes to raise awareness around the need to protect and conserve the country's water resources, said the department.

The week-long programme, will demonstrate, through exhibitions, numerous resource materials for educators and learners, talks and movies, all focusing on water issues that need to be resolved as a matter of importance.

"As a department we seek to continue building on the ongoing awareness creation within the broader South African community.

"This awareness creation is coupled with the responsibility that every citizen must take in ensuring the integrity of our water resources and its efficient use," the department said.

Sanitation and water are extremely linked in South Africa and National Water Week will focus on this aspect of social development.

This is being done to tie in with the United Nations theme for 2008, which is the International Year of Sanitation.

The year aims to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing by half the 2.6 billion people without access to basic sanitation worldwide.

The department aims to halve the number of South Africans in this position by 2010.

In this light, this week, the department will hand over 11 000 recently finished toilets.

The highlights of the annual awareness campaign will also include the opening of a historic water summit in Johannesburg.

The summit is expected to be attended by about 300 delegates from water sector institutions, including international experts on water and sanitation.

This will be followed by the launch of Masibambane III which focuses on water for growth and development in South Africa.

Subsequently, the department's Minister Lindiwe Hendricks and the European Union ambassador will sign a multi-million rand agreement to fund additional water projects in certain parts of the country.

The week-long campaign will also see the department, through the Water Use Efficiency Directorate, signing a memorandum of understanding with power utility Eskom.

The memorandum will deal with water and energy efficiency.

According to drinking water quality guidelines, issued by the World Health Organisation last year, South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where water can be drunk directly from a tap. - BuaNews

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System

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