SA partners with global water experts

6 May 2011

The Department of Water Affairs has forged a partnership with the Water Resources Group, an influential public-private global network on water supported by the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation, to address critical water issues in South Africa.

The declaration of partnership was announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, and Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who also chairs the Water Resources Group.

A new public-private expert leadership group, chaired by the Department of Water Affairs director-general, will be formed to oversee the activities of a partnership called “South Africa Strategic Water Partners Network” to address water conservation, demand management and developing more sustainable management of groundwater resources in SA.

The partnership “will help identify how South Africa’s plans for growth can be met with the water it has safely available,” said Brabeck-Letmathe. “The foresight and leadership of Minister Molewa in this regard should be applauded.”

Managing the supply, demand gap

In South Africa, water demand is expected to rise by 52% within the next 30 years while the supply of water is sharply declining. If current trends of leakage from aged and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and the loss of wetlands persist, this growth in demand will intensify competition for water resources across all sectors of the economy.

Should the status quo in management practices remain, a gap of 17% between water demand and supply is forecast by 2030. This gap would have serious social and political implications and strongly affect South Africa economic growth.

The Water Resources Group partnership “will enable South Africa to access best practice economics, projects and policies in water management from public, private and civil society sectors around the world, enabling officials to field-test and replicate actions for implementation domestically,” said Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum, a member of the Water Resources Group.

Increased efficiency, diversification

The group will focus on increasing water use efficiency in South African agriculture, industry and households, while reducing leakage from municipal and other distribution networks.

At the same time, it will look at diversifying South Africa’s water mix by increasing the re-use of effluent and desalination, and developing more sustainable management of groundwater resources.

The group will help the government develop water strategies for different sectors, identify and help design projects for implementing each strategy, and develop public-private expert collaborations to take the pilot projects forward.

The Water Resources Group, a public-private platform for collaboration, engages with those governments who invite it to work on a comprehensive water sector reform strategy, then provides a public-private approach to support them.

Key partners of the Water Resources Group include the Coca-Cola Company, the International Finance Corporation, Nestle, PepsiCo, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Veolia Environment.

Source: World Economic Forum