Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 July 2010
Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica signed a water-sharing agreement with her Swaziland counterpart, Tsandzile Dlamini, at Driekoppies Dam in Mpumalanga on Friday.
Under the agreement, communities living on both sides of the border will have the right to use water from the dam.
“SADC member countries have agreed to preserve water and promote the sharing of resources among ourselves, and therefore this is a good move for both countries because the project will benefit the citizens of both South Africa and Swaziland,” said Sonjica.
She reminded community members who attended the launch that water had to be used sparingly.
“As we celebrate our achievement today, we should never forget the fact that Swaziland and South Africa are indeed water-stressed countries. We do not have a surplus of water and we cannot afford to abuse our precious water resources. A few good thunderstorms or rising dam levels can never be invitations to waste water or to underestimate its value,” she said.
During the signing of the agreement on Friday, three agricultural sheds and a variety of farming implements were handed over to beneficiaries from the Schoemansdal, Schulzendal and Middelplaas communities, who were forced to relocate when construction of the Driekoppies Dam started in 1994.
The various communal compensation projects amount to more than 260ha under irrigation using water from Driekoppies Dam, as well as about 2900ha of farming land used for various crop cultivation projects.
Sonjica told the beneficiaries that a “mammoth task” awaited them in ensuring the success of their projects.
“Today, the ball is in your court and I challenge you to take heed of the teachings you received from your various mentors and take full responsibility of your projects. By so doing, you will ensure continued success, and your work will be hailed as one of the best of all dam relocation projects.
“I must emphasise that this means hard work, increased commitment and diligence. However, the rewards also mean wider and deeper economic benefits. I am confident that you are capable of taking each project to heights whereby you will not only be a beacon to the province but to the entire country as well,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mathapha Khoza assured the minister that government had invested its money well and the dam’s usage would be to the benefit of all the communities around it.
“We will make sure that this project is properly handled. Water is a precious gift from God, and preserving the water and the land is our priority,” said Khoza.