With the country experiencing severe water shortages, it is vital that all South Africans realise the importance of using it sparingly.
This was the sentiment shared by those in attendance at the launch of the national water and sanitation master plan.
The initiative – launched by Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Council in Pretoria on Thursday – is aimed at addressing the country’s water challenges.
Speaking to the crowd which included farmers, entrepreneurs, and mayors representing their respective municipalities, as well as representatives from organisations including the federation of agricultural organisations, AgriSA, Sisulu said that the water crisis in the country was affecting everyone and as such, everyone needed to be part of the solution.
“Water should be everyone’s business. It is everyone’s business when it is not available and therefore it should be everyone’s business when it is available,” she said.
Sisulu’s remarks come after water shortages in various parts of the country, including Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, an area that needed immediate intervention.
In August, protests erupted in Butterworth after residents had been without tap water for more than a week.
Late last month, the city became one of many in the province that reached day zero after it was hit by severe drought, which resulted in the provincial cabinet declaring it a disaster.
According to Sisulu there isn’t enough water in the country to sufficiently meet demand.
She said: “There is not enough water for our country as currently demand for it outweighs supply. The water available per person in the country decreases as the population increases.”
The water problem in the country has been ongoing.
In October 2017, then mayor of Cape Town and now Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille predicted that the city would run out of water by March last year.
De Lille – who was also present at the launch on Thursday – said the situation that affected Cape Town should never be repeated.
“I can never forget that difficult time. I also remember how between 2016 and 2018 Cape Town faced its worst drought in 100 years,” she said.
“We need to avoid a repeat of what happened in Cape Town. We must use water sparingly.”
She added: “We need to change our relationship with water because climate change brings many uncertainties.”
Sisulu said the master plan would include the restructuring of her department and addressing financial mismanagement.
“The master plan introduces a number of measures. It is a programme of action for the water and sanitation sector but remains largely a plan for the country in addressing both water and sanitation for communities and economic development,” she said.