SA signs agreement to ensure water security

Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu has set the wheels in motion towards establishing and sustaining collaborations with global partners with common interests, in an attempt to enhance measures to ensure water security.

Mchunu, along with the department’s Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Finland and renewed one with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The signing took place on the side-lines of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA.

The agreement between South Africa and Finland aims to promote water security and is focused on integrated water resources and river basin management.

These include the management of groundwater/aquifer and surface water, river basin, and adaptation to, and mitigation of the impacts of climate change in water resources management, as well as hydrological extremes, including flood, drought, water quality, water borne diseases and other water related risk management.

Mchunu, together with Finnish Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Jaana Husu-Kallio signed the MoU on behalf of their respective governments.

Finland has considerable expertise in water resources management and protection as well as in water-related technology, planning, construction, and research.

Mchunu noted that the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is the dominant paradigm in contemporary water resources management.

“Finland has implemented such an approach for decades, aiming at win-win partnerships. It has also been the guiding principle in Finnish water legislation,” Mchunu said.

He added that the signing of the agreement is a much-needed boost the sector requires in South Africa.

Inspiring and capacitating young talent

Meanwhile, the agreement signed with the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been renewed for an additional four years.

The agreement is aimed at collaborating on inspiring and capacitating young talents in water, climate and sustainability in South Africa and abroad.

Dr Phillips and Wetskills Foundation Manager, Johan Oost, officially signed the agreement with obligations that include addressing the skills gap in the water supply value chain and in technical areas within the water sector as well as to develop professional water ambassadors that can protect and manage future water resources.

In addition, the two governments are obligated to organise various activities for students and young professional in the water sector, creating innovation and empowering young people, and integrating young and established professionals in the water sector.

South Africa and Netherlands have a long relationship on water and this relationship was formalised through the signing of a MoU between the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and the South African Department of Water and Sanitation in July 2014.

Mchunu has reiterated his stance on partnerships in the water and sanitation sector and has committed to ensure accountability and transparency when implementing the MoUs.

The Minister also met with several other countries’ leaders on the side-lines of the conference to discuss the possible forging of bilateral partnerships on water and sanitation for the benefit of the respective countries. These include India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Denmark, Egypt, Palestine and Belgium.

Source: South African Government News Agency