Debate on “South Africa’s Deepening Water Crisis – Challenges and Solutions for Water – Scare Country” by Cde Grace Tseke
13 November 2019
ATTAINMENT OF WATER SECURITY IN SOUTH AFRICA
The African National Congress has, over time, being realistic about the enormity of inherited challenges within the water sector, which was depicted by unequal access to water and its associated benefits to the majority of the black citizens of our country. However, of value is the sound policies, legislation and programmes underpinning the water sector that has ensured that accessibility to water for all citizens is prioritised. This is further illustrated in the effective drafting of legislation such as the National Water Act, 1998, Water Services Act, 1997 and various regulations that determine the effective governance of water in the county.
The culmination of various policy design, legislation and programme implementation in the last few years has resulted in a valuable contribution by the National Planning Commission and the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation entitled the Draft National Water Security Framework.
The value of this publication is that it provides the basis for the future water security in the country with systematic and highly defined information on what the state needs to do to ensure that water security for future generations is effectively attained.
As the Framework argues and I quote that “water security is not simply a state of adequate water, but rather a relationship that describes how individuals, households and communities navigate and transform hydro-social relations to access the water that they need and in ways that support the sustained development of human capabilities and well-being in the full breadth and scope”. Unquote.
The Framework, together with the Master Plan provides a blueprint for the sustainable water provisions to attain economic, and social transformation to ensure equity in access to this valuable resource. This, then begs the question of what water security means for the lived realities of the citizens of the country toward prosperous economic and social development. As clearly articulated in the ANC Manifesto, the percentage of households with clean drinking water has increased from 51% in 1994 to 88.6%. This is indeed an achievement that very few countries could and can achieve.
Whilst looking at future scenarios, one has to be realistic that the climatological conditions such as erratic rainfall and increased demand by all sectors in the country create conditions for water insecurity in the country. It is not only environmental factors that have a bearing on the future of our water security; but other threats such as failing and aging infrastructure which contributes to excessive water leaks, inadequate wastewater treatment, as well as poorly managed forestry and agricultural activities that undermine the sustainability of water security in our country.
The state, more especially the Department of Water and Sanitation, has over the years systematically worked toward ensuring a secure water supply for all citizens and to keep the economy going. The ruling party, of course, the African National Congress has attained this by ensuring that programmes, legislation and policy address not only the inequity in water; but worked towards balancing water security in our country so as attain water security for all citizens not only currently, but for future social and economic purposes.
The Draft National Water Security Framework provides the basis for a logical, systematic and advanced approach for effective water security in the country. The Framework argues the following and I quote:
1. Enabling water security through effective institutional arrangements.
2. Enabling water security through effective water management and governance.
3. Enabling water security through capacity building.
However, the state, through the governance mechanisms provided by the African National Congress has created, within the constitutional prescripts, the necessary institutional mechanisms to drive water management and governance in the country so as not only ensure equity in water access to all; but work toward water security for current and future generations.
In many developed and developing countries, with scarce water resources, to attain water security has been immensely difficult. But added to the many challenges faced by South Africa was the inequitable access to water by all citizens of the country. The African National Congress, with its forward looking and focused approach to not only committing itself to the basic principles articulated in the Constitution, Section 27 which says,
”Everyone has the right to healthcare, food, water and social security“
The developmental agenda must not only look at working toward a reliable and secure water management system for economic purposes; but must work towards reducing poverty, advancing education, supporting productivity and increasing living standards. And I think, with all of the inherited challenges confronting the current government, we as the African National Congress are proud of the value and services provided to the citizens of the country.