By: Edna Molewa – Minister of water and environmental affairs
The challenge of managing our water resources requires proactive solutions, especially with the reality of climate change on our doorstep. In addition to this grim reality, there is a need to address pressing issues of equity in an environment in which the country’s water resources are reeling under increasing pressure in terms of abstraction, habitat destruction and pollution.
This is a complex physical, social and economic matrix and our recently published second edition of the national water resources strategy aims to address it. It sets out the strategic direction for water resources management in South Africa over the next 20 years and has a practical emphasis on what needs to happen in the short term – five years. It provides the framework for the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources for South Africa, as well as the framework in which water must be managed at catchment level in defined water-management areas.
The water sector has undergone major change since the dawn of democracy in 1994 and since then we have developed a remarkable body of policy and legislation, which has been acclaimed all over the globe for its progressive and ground-breaking nature.
But we cannot escape the reality that the implementation of the new policy and legislation has been slow, particularly in terms of equity and redress in access to water and sanitation. Although the provision of safe domestic water supplies has reached 95% of the population, showing remarkable strides since 1994, the allocation and reallocation of raw water to historically disadvantaged communities for productive purposes has not progressed as it should. The number of people without adequate services is still too large, particularly among the poor. Continue reading