Water is crucial for economic development – Sisulu

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation recently held a strategic planning session in Pretoria. Speaking at the session, the department’s Minister, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu said the maintenance and development of water infrastructure is crucial so that all South Africans can have access.

Sisulu also that it is important to improve the delivery of decent sanitation by exploring the use of innovative technologies. The minister said the department’s political guidance and direction is premised on the government’s Programme of Action, which drives all its efforts to respond to and carry out the needs and desires of South Africans.

According to Sisulu, the planning terrain for the 2020/2021 medium term has been intensified and it includes the department’s entities. She said the department sets the agenda and it identifies key projects for State Owned Companies and entities to implement over a defined period. She also added that these interventions are essential for growth and sustained service delivery to a growing population and its demands.

“South Africa has been facing difficulties since the financial crisis in 2008. However, the country has embarked on an aggressive infrastructure development programme in order to stimulate growth, the programme is led by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. Global growth remains muted and financial markets have become volatile. Currencies of emerging markets have also become weak and they have fluctuated widely,” said the Minister.

She added that the department has a constitutional responsibility of delivering basic services to the people even though it is faced with domestic factors such as constrained electricity and industrial relations. Sisulu said because of the accruals the department had in the last few years, it is necessary for it to review its strategic plan so it can align to the Annual Performance Plan (APP) targets with the available budget.

“We will continue to find cost effective ways of realising our mandate within the allocated budget. We all had to work hard in order to turn the economy around and to reduce wastage. This belt-tightening exercise will require everyone to go through a difficult period until the economy recovered,” said the Minister.

Her Deputy Minister, Mr David Mahlobo, said the global importance of water cannot be over-emphasised. Mahlobo said water is crucial for all life and important human socio-economic wellbeing, hence its value is seen in context as an environmental, social and economic good.

“The security of water supply is paramount for socio-economic development. We must always plan for climate change. The challenges posed by climate change, water, nutrients and energy are converging. About 12 million hectares of land become degraded each year. Droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and larger. For a host of reasons, Africa is at the eye of this storm. Some reasons include the fact that southern Africa has already lost 25% of its soil fertility and some countries on the continent have some of the highest population growth rates globally,” said Mahlobo.

Mahlobo added that the protection of the water resources is critical, especially due to high levels of deteriorating water quality caused by infrastructure failure in municipalities, mines and industries. He said the department conducted a compliance monitoring on  407 water users which included agriculture, dam safety, industry, mining, municipality, public entities and stream flow reduction activities in the previous financial year.

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