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Durban – A massive behavioural change has been witnessed in water conservation and usage among South Africans following extensive campaigns by the government in the wake of drought conditions experienced across the region.

"There is a high level of behavioural change in our country, though a lot can still be done and it must be done. But it is a simple thing where everybody is asking – how do I make sure that I have a solution for rain water, harvesting it? Other people are embracing the use of grey water, recycling it and not using water once," Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane told the African News Agency (ANA) at the World Economic Forum in Durban.

"There has also been the partnerships. I think with the drought experience that we have gone through, what has been quite heartening is that we have seen the unity of South Africans. Those who are able to, prayed, traditional leaders have raised their awareness.

"People in the agricultural sector have done heir bid. Schools have actually raised a lot of awareness, and municipalities have come to understand that they must invest on maintenance because if they don't maintain in their infrastructure we will lose. As we speak now, R7 billion [worth of ] water has been lost because of poor maintenance."

Mokonyane said the country was not out of the woods and more efforts were still required to save water. She said the instructions from her department for municipalities to save water was adhered to, even in towns and municipalities run by the opposition political parties.


"Water knows no politics. That's another beautiful thing. If you want something that puts political differences aside, it is water. Even towns that are now under the leadership of opposition parties, they have done quite well. When we said to them you must go and save 25 percent, they actually saved more than 40 percent," said Mokonyane.

"We are working now very closely with the province of the Western Cape and Cape Town which is currently challenged with water now just available for 88 days. We are doing a lot of work in that regard."

Regarding the 27th World Economic Forum on Africa, Mokonyane said the event so far had been an encouraging experience.

"What has been quite humbling is the increased number of possible investors who are participating. But also the attendance of our heads of state from Africa. [There is] a real focus on infrastructure and inclusive growth. We are quite excited from our side because we now know that there are many people who want to hear answers from us and also want to be granted certainty on whether it conducive to put their money, their dollar, into investing in Africa," said Mokonyane.

AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY