Despite having scarce freshwater resources and being the 30th driest country in the world, South Africa has done well more than other African countries that possess ‘goldmines’ of freshwater but still sing the song ‘water runs dry’.
A total of 91% of the population in Africa’s biggest economy have access to improved water sources, and 79% have access to improved sanitation. This was revealed this week by the country’s trade and industry deputy minister Elizabeth Thabethe.
Thabethe was speaking at the Zimbabwe Water Resources and Infrastructure Investment Summit which took place in Bulawayo.
The summit was part of the 54th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair where 47 South African companies are participating, the department of trade and industry (dti) said.
“The improvement is the result of the country’s 15 water provision authorities, including local and district local municipalities, driven by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change, improved framework for government and financing,” she said.
Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are still luxury commodities in most African countries with just under two years left for the MDGs bell to ring, and more than a century after their highly-publicised independences from the so-called European ‘imperialists’.
More than 300 million people in Africa have no access to safe drinking water and 640 million do not have adequate sanitation, according to official statistics. Experts have pointed out that most countries in sub-Saharan Africa will not be able to meet their MDGs goals on water and sanitation.
The United Nations has declared 2013 as the International Year for Water Cooperation.
Thabethe identified human capital, governance and leadership development as some of the challenges in ensuring effective and efficient water resource management.
“It is therefore important to look across the entire water sector including government, the private sector and civil society for a range of skills while building capacity manage water resources effectively and efficiently,” the dti deputy minister said.
“Water is critical to sustainable socio-economic development and eradication of poverty, and plays a critical function in our economy where it contributes 60% towards agriculture and irrigation,” the South African deputy minister said, adding that water should be at the core of the green economy in the contexhttp://supportfairtrade.com/t of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Despite being the continent’s biggest environmental polluter, Thabethe reiterated that her country was committed to seeing a better continent without a lot of emissions,” said Thabethe.
South Africa emits more than half of all Africa’s greenhouse gas (GHG), as a result of its high dependence on coal for its electricity purposes.
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*Photo by Durbanzone.co.za