SA at work: Water is our daily priority

2014-02-25 08:00

South Africa has poor rainfall patterns relative to the world average and it is the 30th-driest country in the world. We have less water per person than Namibia.

With more than 4?300 dams, South Africa still doesn’t have enough water to meet our social and economic needs.

The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission provides a framework to integrate, coordinate and prioritise infrastructure projects, enable the decision-making process and address bottlenecks, so the president dedicated one of the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) to tracking the national water and sanitation plan.

Last June, Cooperative Governance Minister Lechesa Tsenoli said at the launch of SIP 18: “We have a unique opportunity in our history to unleash the exponential potential of infrastructure to unlock economic and social development, which will improve the daily lives of all of our citizens.”

The plan is not only to create infrastructure to supply the ongoing demand for water, but to provide water to more than 1?million households that do not have tap water, and 2?million households that do not have basic sanitation.

Last week in his state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma said: “The government has begun an intensive programme to eliminate the bucket system as part of restoring the dignity of our people.”

Phase 1 of the programme will eradicate buckets in formalised townships in the Free State, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. Phase 2 will eradicate buckets in informal settlements in all of the provinces.

Census 1996 showed that 4.5?million houses had flush toilets. Fifteen years later, in 2011, the census recorded 9?million houses with flush toilets.

The president also announced the following: “To improve water supply, two large new dams were completed – De Hoop in Limpopo and Spring Grove in KwaZulu-Natal – while phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project will be launched soon.”

Infrastructure investment is deliberately designed to support jobs and manufacturing, address the needs of the poor, aid social development and link the poorest regions of the country to markets so they can unlock economic opportunities.

The acid test of the infrastructure plan will be the effective implementation of quality infrastructure within a reasonable time, and if it is affordable to users.

For this, we must build strong technical capacity to coordinate the plans across the public sector and we have no doubt that by working together we are achieving more.

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