Pretoria - The Department of Water and Sanitation will this year use World Water Day on March 22 to raise awareness on water conservation, sustainability and climate change.
The awareness campaign will be in line with the initiative championed by the United Nations (UN) to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The department's plan is contained in a concept document, in which it announced that South Africa will celebrate national water week from March 21 to March 27.
Part of the document noted that awareness and advocacy activities would take place against the backdrop of challenges such as insufficient water, infrastructure maintenance and investment, recurrent droughts driven by climatic variation and inequities in the access to water and sanitation.
Challenges highlighted in the national water and sanitation master plan are seen as contributing to the “deteriorating water quality”.
Climate change is one of the crucial subjects that will be addressed during the awareness campaign, given its negative effects on the country’s water resources.
“In the face of climate change, groundwater, which will not experience the increased evaporation that will impact on surface water as temperatures increase, will become increasingly important,” the document said.
The department said there was a need to optimise the water mix, which is dominated by surface water, particularly as the world population is expected to double in the near future.
As part of its campaign, the department will organise clean-up drives for rivers for the duration of the month of March, known as water month.
Various activities aimed at addressing water challenges will also be held countrywide.
The department said: "Activities will be hosted in-person, on virtual platforms including social media platforms, as well as on broadcast platforms. In this way, different audiences will be included in various discussions on topics of interest."
Such activities, said the department, would enable community members, experts, practitioners, diplomats and business innovators to exchange ideas and network around the plans and strategies for the water sector.