Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Deputy Minister Andries Nel says South Africa is ready to collaborate in safeguarding water which is the catalyst for development.
“We are committed to multi-lateral, transboundary collaboration to ensure that water is a catalyst for socio-economic development and transformation. Access to water and sanitation are central to our National Development Plan,” said Deputy Minister Nel.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at the launch of the “International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development” at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters, in New York, on Thursday.
Deputy Minister Nel said SA is ready to implement the recommendations of the High Level Panel on Water with particular focus on the Africa Water Investment Programme (AIP).
The programme is spearheaded by South Africa, Senegal and Mauritius. Its mandate is bogged down in the sixth sustainable development goal which includes the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
“This underscores our shared responsibility to ensure implementation of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, understanding that they are inter-related and inter-dependent and that SDG 6 is central to them all,” said Deputy Minister Nel.
Deputy Minister Nel reflected on former President Nelson Mandela’s speech during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, in which he said: “When I return, as I often do, to the rural village and area of my childhood and youth, the poverty of the people and the devastation of the natural environment painfully strike me.
“And in that impoverishment of the natural environment, it is the absence of access to clean water that strikes most starkly”.
In light of this speech and fast forward to 2018, Nel said South Africa had made significant strides in delivering water to its people.
“That our government has made significant progress in bringing potable water nearer to so many more people than was previously the case, it rates amongst the most important achievements of democracy in our country,” said Deputy Minister Nel.
As a water scarce country, South Africa shares 60% of its fresh water resources with its neighbours in Southern Africa. Last week, government declared drought a national disaster in order to deal more effectively with the drought affecting amongst others, the City of Cape Town.
In line with South Africa’s centenary celebrations of the birth of former President Mandela the UN General Assembly’s declared his birthday, 18 July as the Nelson Mandela International Day for Freedom, Justice and Democracy. The day will be celebrated under the theme: “Action Against Poverty”.
In light of the UN’s declaration, Deputy Minister Nel called for strengthened efforts by stakeholders and citizens to save water.