This edition of ANC TODAY is published during our annual National Water Week, which beganon 19 March. The day before the publication of this edition, we observed World Water Day,which falls on 22 March, which was so designated by the UN General Assembly (UNGA). TheUNGA took this decision to respond to the recommendations of the Rio de Janeiro UnitedNations Conference on Environment and Development, the predecessor of the JohannesburgUnited Nations World Summit in Sustainable Development (WSSD).Our Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Lindiwe Hendricks, launched our National WaterWeek by turning the sod at the site in Limpopo Province on which our country will build thevitally important De Hoop Dam. Speaking on this occasion, on 19 March, she said:"I am very pleased to be here in Sekhukhune and excited to be launching the De Hoop Dam.Today's event is also the launch of our National Water Week for 2007 - a very important weekin our calendar because it creates awareness about the importance of water and the manychallenges we face in South Africa and indeed across the world in providing water to people."There is a lot for us to be excited about today as this new dam will transform the lives of thepeople in this region. It will do so by creating the infrastructure so that we can provide waterto communities that have long had to struggle for water; the dam will also create local jobs inthe construction of the dam, the related water infrastructure, and in the building of roads; andthe dam will mean that mines can be established, which will create additional jobs andopportunities for the local communities..."The importance of this dam is twofold; the first is to supply water to the towns, industriesand poorly serviced rural communities in the Sekhukhune District of the Limpopo Province.Secondly, the dam is to supply water to the mines that will help to unlock vast mineraldeposits, mainly in the form of platinum group metals found in the region. These metals are atpresent the largest known unexploited mineral wealth in our country."The construction of the De Hoop Dam and the associated bulk water distributioninfrastructure will cost R5 billion (at present value), and municipalities in the area, supportedby the national and provincial government, are preparing to invest an additional R3 billion oninfrastructure to treat and distribute potable water to rural domestic and urban users. Morethan 80,000 people in the project area will benefit by improved domestic water supply whenthe availability of water from the dam is secured. The planning for the construction of the damis well underway and construction is to start in the second quarter of this year to see the firstimpoundment of water during the 2009/2010 rainy season..."DROUGHT & KILLER WAVESAs Lindiwe Hendricks spoke, with her audience bathing in the bright sunlight of a summer'sday, she would have been acutely conscious of the importance of the theme of this year'sNational Water Week: "Water is life - protect our scarce resources". This is because during ourcurrent rainy season, a significant part of our country is confronted with the reality of droughtconditions, occasioned by the absence of rainfall over a period of a number of months. Theresultant shortage of water has negatively affected crop estimates for the year and may verywell make some important food items unaffordable especially to the poorest in our country.Thus nature continues to tell us everyday that, indeed, water is life!Of course, the water we are talking about is potable water and water for use in agriculture,industry and mining. Unlike countries in the Middle East, for instance, we do not include thegreat volumes of water in the oceans that wash our shores, the Indian and the Atlantic,among the resources we must tap for these purposes.And yet, on the very day that Lindiwe Hendricks launched our National Water Week, thewaters of the Indian Ocean crashed with great fury along the coast of KwaZulu Natal, killingone person and causing enormous damage.The media reported that "Scientists monitoring waves off the South African coast say thehighest wave measured during the violent storms off KwaZulu Natal this week was a startling12m, measured off Richards Bay...Marius Rossouw, of the Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch in Cape Town, said the waves in this week's storms were the highest they hadmeasured on the KZN coast in 23 years."The Thekwini Metro City deputy head of fire and disaster management, Mark Te Water, saidthe damage was "definitely extensive...Some of the damage included beaches and roads thathad been washed away, water, electricity, sanitation and telephone services that had beendestroyed, while in some instances, buildings had been inundated." Thus, this time from theoceans rather than the skies above, did water remind all of us of its importance to theachievement of the goal of a better life for all our people.MANY VOICES OF WATERThe outstanding South African poet and writer, Antjie Krog, communicated this importantpoint differently when, in the Preamble to our 1997 White Paper on a "National Water Policyfor South Africa", she wrote:"There is water within us, let there be water with us. Water never rests. When flowing above,it causes rain and dew. When flowing below it forms streams and rivers. If a way is made forit, it flows along that path. And we want to make that path. We want the water of this countryto flow out into a network - reaching every individual - saying: here is this water, for you.Take it; cherish it as affirming your human dignity; nourish your humanity. With water we willwash away the past, we will from now on ever be bounded by the blessing of water."Water has many forms and many voices. Unhonoured, keeping its seasons and rages, itsrhythms and trickles, water is there in the nursery bedroom; water is there in the apricot treeshading the backyard, water is in the smell of grapes on an autumn plate, water is there in thesmall white intimacy of washing underwear. Water - gathered and stored since the beginningof time in layers of granite and rock, in the embrace of dams, the ribbons of rivers - will oneday, unheralded, modestly, easily, simply flow out to every South African who turns a tap.That is my dream."Not many of us are familiar with the enormous and sustained effort and the volume ofresources needed to realise Antjie Krog's and our dream that water will, one day, unheralded,modestly, easily, simply flow out to every South African who turns a tap, and indeed that oneday, all South Africans will have easy and immediate access to a tap that would be ready, atall times, to provide clean life-giving water.POWER, POVERTY AND THE GLOBAL WATER CRISISThe 2006 UNDP Human Development Report, entitled "Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty andthe Global Water Crisis", is dedicated to the global struggle for access to adequate water andsanitation. The UNDP decided to launch the Report in our country. This took place atKirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town on 9 November 2006. Speaking at this occasion,the Administrator of the UNDP, Kemal Dervis, said:"This year's Human Development Report - Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the GlobalWater Crisis - looks at an issue that profoundly influences progress towards the MDGs[Millennium Development Goals], and human potential more generally. Water is a basichuman need and a fundamental human right. Access to water, a simple resource that many inrich countries take for granted, has implications for improving life chances, expanding choice,and the exercise of basic human freedoms. Water for life in the household and water forlivelihoods through production are two of the foundations for human development."The crisis in water for life is the widespread violation of the basic human right to water. Onein every six people in the world is denied the right to clean, accessible and affordable water.2.6 billion people do not have even rudimentary forms of sanitation. That deprivation causesnearly two million avoidable child deaths each year. As the great author Victor Hugo wrote inLes Miserables, 'The sewer is the conscience of the city.' The central message of this year'sReport is that the global water crisis is not one of physical scarcity, but one rooted in povertyand inequality..."Here in South Africa, the constitutional right to water has enabled the Government to protectand promote the right to water for every individual. This is amply demonstrated by the policyand legislative frameworks, budget allocations and achievements to date on this critical issue.However, challenges remain...As always, the United Nations Development Programme standsready to support the Government of South Africa, by sharing our experience gained worldwideand working together to make further progress in an area where South Africa is already aleader."Speaking at the same launch of the Human Development Report, Kevin Watkins, Director andlead Author of the Report, said:"Vaclav Havel once said that politics is not the art of the possible, but the art of imagining theimpossible - and then making it happen...For all of us involved in preparing the Report, it is agreat privilege to hold this event in a country that has done so much to advance to cause ofhuman development...There are many reasons for those of us working on human developmentto feel at home in South Africa."The human development approach is about expanding human freedoms, realising humanpotential, and overcoming inequalities in life chances rooted in social injustice - in disparitiesbased on gender, race, and other markets for disadvantage. These are themes at the heart ofthe Freedom Charter, the Bill of Rights adopted by the ANC in the mid-1980s, and - of course- in the South African Constitution."There are many ways in which South Africa has touched the lives of people beyond yourborders. On a purely personal note, I had the great privilege as a student of being taught byRuth First. She was a brilliant scholar. But above all she, like so many others involved in thestruggle against apartheid, Ruth was an ardent advocate for social justice at home andabroad...South African history demonstrates the truth behind the expression 'where there is awill, there is a way'."In our increasingly prosperous world, we do not lack the financial resources, the technology,or the ingenuity to consign the water and sanitation crisis to its proper place in history books.The poverty, the child deaths, and the gender inequalities which attend this crisis are notinevitable..."Let me conclude by returning to the great lesson that South Africa has taught the world, andto Vaclav Havel's reflection on the art of politics. We need to imagine a world in which nochildren die because of water and sanitation deficits - and we need the political leadership, thestrategies, and the resources to make that world happen."OUR NATIONAL OBJECTIVESThe UNDP paid great tribute to our efforts since 1994 to confront the challenge of providingwater and sanitation to all our people, when it decided to launch the 2006 HumanDevelopment Report (HDR) in our country. The statements made by Kemal Dervis and KevinWatkins on this occasion, when they referred specifically to what we have done, cannot butserve further to inspire us to accelerate our advance towards the attainment of the goal set inthe HDR of universal access to water and sanitation.In this regard, as explained by our Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and of thegreatest importance, we have set the objectives of our National Water Campaign as:Increased awareness of the processes towards realising the constitutional right of all SouthAfricans to have access to water;building on existing campaigns around sanitation and hygiene (particularly the "Water Supply,Sanitation and Hygiene" - WASH - campaign);ensuring that the cleanliness and the integrity of our water sources and outlets is maintained;ensuring the long term sustainability of our water resources;highlighting the crucial link between water and health with the objective of eradicating waterbornediseases and, thereby, reducing child mortality;empowering communities, especially women, in managing and improving their livingconditions;highlighting the vital interdependence between poverty eradication, socio-economicempowerment and our water resources;developing an aware and responsible South African society across the demographic spectrum;supporting the Women in Water, Sanitation and Forestry Awards;supporting the "Baswa Le Meetse" Awards (Youth in Water Awards); and,celebrating Water as a source of life.As part of the campaign to educate our people about these important objectives, I believe thatit is vital that the nation as a whole is also properly informed about the complex process thatends with the delivery to the citizen of even one drop of clean water.This would increase the level of national awareness about the enormous effort, resources andorganisation that go into water harvesting, treatment and purification, delivery, distributionand conservation, as well as the maintenance of our water reservoirs and courses and theextensive infrastructure that delivers water to the citizen.In her introduction to the "National Water Resource Strategy" document, the then Minister ofWater Affairs and Forestry, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, said:"South Africa is a water-scarce country. Our average annual rainfall is a little more than half ofthe world average, and much of our country is semi-arid. Across most of the country thepotential evaporation is higher than the rainfall. Our land is vulnerable to floods and droughtsand all of us have shared the horror of floodwaters sweeping away people, houses and roads."We have also shared with our farmers and our rural communities the bitter longing for rainsthat never seem to come. Our water resources are limited and it is essential that we use themefficiently and in the best interests of all our people..."We are not on the point of running out of water, but we have to use our limited watersupplies more efficiently and effectively. Water use in South Africa is dominated by irrigation,which accounts for around 62% of all water used in the country. Domestic and urban useaccounts for about 27%, while mining, large industries and power generation account forsome 8%. Commercial forestry plantations account for a little less than 3% of total use byreducing runoff into rivers and streams."South Africa's rivers are small in comparison with those in many other countries. The OrangeRiver carries only about 10% of the volume of water flowing down the Zambezi River andabout 1% of the flow in the Congo River."WATER IS LIFE - PROTECT OUR SCARCE RESOURCESThe central message here is that we have to use our limited water supplies more efficientlyand effectively. In this regard, beyond the immediate dictates of our national setting, we mustalso put into the larger equation serious consideration of the longer-term impact of globalwarming and climate change. Our celebration of water as a source of life must translate intopractical actions aimed at ensuring that we do indeed use our limited water supplies moreefficiently and effectively.Among other things this means that all of us, including the branches of the ANC, must join thenational campaign to reduce the amount of water lost through leakages in the waterinfrastructure. We must therefore immediately report any leakage we come across, inside andoutside our homes, and insist that the relevant authorities attend to such leakages as a matterof urgency. We must also take it as our daily task save as much water as possible even insideour houses.Big water users, such as agriculture, must also investigate ways and means by which they canreduce water consumption, while supplying their crops with the necessary amount of waterrequired to grow these plants. In this regard, among others we must also fully mobilise allcapacities that reside at such institutions as the Agricultural Research Council, as well as drawon international experience, properly to respond the theme of our Water Week: "Water is life -protect our scarce resources".When he spoke at Kirstenbosch, UNDP Administrator, Kemal Dervis, identified some of theprincipal challenges we face with regard to the provision of water and sanitation. We mustrespond to the challenge he laid at our feet when he said:"Access to potable water in South Africa is not universal and coverage rates among the poorstill vary significantly. Also, South Africa has not yet matched its success in expanding accessand reducing inequality in water provision with comparable outcomes in sanitation. Thechallenge for South Africa, as the Government recognises and is taking steps to address, liesin expanding access and engaging communities in the identification and adoption of the mostappropriate and sustainable solutions that respond to environmental and resourceconstraints."
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