Cities must save water

2008-12-02 00:00

South African cities will soon face major water shortages if they do not implement drastic measures to conserve this most precious liquid.

This is a warning raised by one of the water think-tanks during the first day of the second South African Cities Network Urban Conference held in Durban yesterday.

The project manager for the South African Cities Network, David Schmidt, said the trend of water usage in the cities is not sustainable, adding that they lose 15% of water through leaks. South Africa has also failed to introduce measures to reduce high volumes of water used for sanitation and other household needs, he said.

“The situation is not good at all because cities around the world have been able to achieve a substantial reduction [in water usage], even while their populations have grown.”

Schmidt said the future was not about finding more water, but about using water efficiently.

“Increasing water resources is not going to help if we do not change how we use water,” he said.

According to the statistics released by UN Habitat’s Rasna Warah, the number of people who migrate to urban areas is increasing.

She said cities will house 60% of the world’s population in 2030, and that only 37% of people lived in urban areas in the 1970s.

The conference also discussed strategies on how to deal with informal settlement in urban areas.

Warah commended South Africa for its slums clearance programme, saying that even UN Habitat has learnt a lot from South Africa.

Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatswayo told the conference that an important challenge facing cities is the lack of communication between the three spheres of government. “The implementation of polices is still very poor. We need to move very fast because poverty is now becoming more urban,” she said.

She said the government needs to start looking at putting up high-rise buildings to deal with the increasing demand for housing in the urban areas.

The conference continues today.

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