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Water issues are not just limited to South Africa, with many regions across the globe battling with shortages, pollution and inefficient sanitation. This was made very clear at the recent World Water Week, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

SA government focuses on water sustainabilityAttended by the South African Department of Water and Sanitation, among ministries from other countries, SIWI saw South Africa participate in a number of panels over the 6-day conference. South Africa is one for the members of AMCOW (Africa Ministers Council on Water) and was represented by Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Pamela Tshwete.

The Deputy Minister participated in two Africa-focused sessions, highlighting the traction made by South Africa in accelerating trans-boundary water management through innovative projects that attract investment for implementation. A high level ministerial panel discussed actions required to address issues identified in the technical sessions and further deliberated on the policy and strategic directions to be undertaken at continental, regional and national levels.

The conference saw delegates agreeing that the current level of financing for water and sanitation activities on the continent falls far below the level required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), AU agenda 2063 and Africa Water Vision 2025 commitments. A two-part session entitled “SDG-Paris Agreement – Building a Resilient Future through Water” also found agreement among presenters, panellists and the audience. Building the future we want, they established, will take what Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of The Netherlands, described as the “Systems Approach” which at a high level entails the 5 C’s: Commitment, capacity building, cross-cutting, collaboration and consistency.

Deputy Minister Tshwete took the opportunity to speak to the process of developing the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan (NW&SMP) at the event. The plan will guide the South African water and sanitation sector towards the urgent execution of tangible actions that will make a real impact on the supply and use of water and sanitation, she said.

“The Master Plan will set out the framework for how South Africa is going to manage its water resources and implement water and sanitation programmes. Furthermore, The Master Plan will assist South Africa to achieve the targets set in the National Development Plan (NDP), the global and African agendas outlined in the SDGs, the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the AU Agenda 2063,” Tshwete added.

As part of this, a number of other ministries are participating in a sustainable water future for South Africa. For example, the Department of Tourism has added support for water efficiency measures in the hospitality industry to the third window application period of the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP), which opens from 1 September to 30 November 2018.

In partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and with the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) as the technical support, the Department launched the Green Tourism Incentive Programme in 2017 to encourage small and micro tourism enterprises to move towards cleaner and more energy-efficient operations. “While the uptake in the programme during the first two application windows was positive, the Department recognised the need to expand the programme focus to also include water efficiency to mitigate the impact of persistent drought conditions in some parts of the country on the tourism sector,” says the Director General of the Department of Tourism, Victor Tharage.

“The inclusion of water efficiency solutions in the Green Tourism Incentive Programme contributes to the department’s objective of encouraging the South African tourism sector to adopt operational practices for the sustainable management and usage of water and electricity resources and adhering to responsible tourism principles.”

Image Credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/15462362417

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