The Department of Water and Sanitation is guided by the National Water Act No 36 to ensure that water resources are effectively managed and protected. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency
The Department of Water and Sanitation is guided by the National Water Act No 36 to ensure that water resources are effectively managed and protected. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Department of Water and Sanitation hard at work to supply water

By Sanku Tsunke Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

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The Department of Water and Sanitation is guided by the National Water Act No 36 to ensure that water resources are effectively managed and protected.

This has to be in line with the fact that everyone has a right of access to sufficient food and water, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution (Act 108 of 1996). The department carried out its mandate amid the country’s devastating drought period in most parts of the country in earlier years, and it still does so even now since the advent of the global pandemic of Covid-19.

With this new phenomenon that the country is grappling with, the Department of Water and Sanitation is hard at work to ensure that every household has access to water, even those that are in hard to reach rural areas and highly densified informal settlements.

Following the announcement of the country’s lockdown by President Ramaphosa, the department set up the Covid-19 National Command Centre for Water and Sanitation on March 23 2020. The centre, based at Rand Water in Johannesburg, has ensured that areas with no proper water infrastructure receive water storage tanks and water tankers (water trucks).

This would ensure that no community is left without water and people are able to constantly wash their hands with water and soap, and to maintain good hygienic practices. Washing of hands is a practice encouraged among citizens to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, which is mainly transmitted through unhygienic hands.

The country is now preparing to enter Level 3 of national lockdown from today, easing some of the restrictions and allowing people back to work. Most importantly, learners across the country will also be phased-in back to schools. The Department of Water and Sanitation will play a critical role in supplying water to schools. The department has entered into an Implementation Protocol Agreement with the Department of Basic Education and Rand Water to ensure that no school will be without water.

Since the country’s lockdown, the Department of Water and Sanitation has delivered 18 262 water storage tanks and 1 299 water tankers at various district and local municipalities in all nine provinces. The Covid-19 National Command Centre for the department has also delivered 7 405 water storage tanks and 347 water tankers out of the grand total.

These measures demonstrate the department’s commitment to ensure that water is brought to communities, especially those with historical water supply challenges.

However, as communities are urged to prevent contracting the coronavirus by regularly washing their hands with water and soap, they are also reminded to use water wisely.

It is a known fact that water scarcity is a reality in our country.

The Department of Water and Sanitation not only ensured water supply to communities but has also distributed hygiene goods to all nine provinces. These included 73 528 hand sanitisers (500ml), 71 448 soap bars, 212 160 hand gloves, 13 610 face masks (pack of 50), 11 850 hygiene packs, and 13 510 disposable cover suits. A national campaign on good hygiene practice is being taken to vulnerable communities to promote habitual hygienic practice for protection against Covid-19.

The nation has shown commitment to adapt to this new reality. Both young and old have heeded the call to protect themselves against this invisible enemy.

They have accepted government’s messages of keeping good hygiene by washing hands regularly and wearing masks in public, and this has resulted in a heightened change of behaviour in our society.

Instead of the fear and anxiety that initially gripped the nation when the announcement of Covid was made, a change of behaviour is being experienced.

South Africans are protecting themselves and this practise will not only minimise the spread of coronavirus - but will also result in a health-conscious nation.

* Sanku Tsunke, Communicator in the Department of Water and Sanitation.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus


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