SA inks water deal with Dutch group
Johannesburg - Water organisations in South Africa and The Netherlands have signed a deal to help improve South Africa’s water security.
The agreement between South Africa’s Water Research Commission (WRC) and KWR, the Dutch Water Research Institute, will see the two collaborating to help ensure that water is available and its quality does not impact negatively on people’s health and food supplies.
“South Africa’s climate change will significantly affect the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades.
“(The countries) signed a (deal) granting the WRC membership to KWR’s Watershare programme. Watershare is a family of trusted publicly financed institutes sharing knowledge and experiences in the global water sector. Both knowledge institutions will conduct joint research applying different tools from the Watershare platform,” the WRC said in a statement.
South Africa and The Netherlands have been discussing the country’s water crises at the @HouseoftheFuture in Johannesburg this week during a Dutch visit to the country. Part of the delegation to South Africa has included Henk Ovik, The Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs.
He told reporters in The Hague earlier this month that greater co-operation was expected following talks between him and South Africa’s Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
The Netherlands is a world leader in water technology innovation, having to install drains and dikes to reclaim land from the sea. Because two-thirds of the country would flood if were not for water protection structures, its programmes also take climate change, expanding economies and urbanisation into consideration. It also has experience in helping countries deal with drought conditions.
“Our ability to ensure national water security will be greatly enhanced by this partnership with one of the world’s leading water research and development initiatives, the KWR. It will also give South Africa access to cutting-edge tools and technologies in water,” WRC CEO Dhesigen Naidoo said.
He said the agreement also meant that the commission would be able to better serve its end-user clients, including water companies, utilities, municipalities and water boards. This meant that these in turn could effectively meet the water needs of the people in South Africa.
KWR will organise joint thematic research programmes, as well as collective futures research, while the WRC will have access to a wide range of specific tools, based on solid science and of proven practical value.
The partnership will be designed areas of water quality and health, sustainability, water technology, asset design and management, and water systems.
The drought has devastated many parts of the country, with South Africa set to lose billions of rand and thousands of jobs in the agriculture sector.
Earlier this year the World Economic Forum warned that while international conflict was the biggest threat to the stability of the world in the next 10 years, the water crisis was ranked the highest in terms of impact.