The Department of Water and Sanitation engaged key water sector stakeholders to make inputs into the National Water Resource Strategy 3 (NWRS-3) during a Consultative Workshop held at Capital Hotel in Mbombela on 13 September 2022. One of the key objectives of the consultative workshop was to obtain commitment and support for the NWRS-3 in order to improve the management of water resources in the country. The primary key focus of the NWRS-3 is to ensure equitable and sustainable access to and use of water by all South Africans while sustaining the water resource.
The Cabinet approved the National Water Resource Strategy 3 for gazetting and public consultation.
In his provincial overview presentation, the Mpumalanga Provincial Head of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Mr Fikile Guma reminded the delegates that the Mpumalanga Province is bordered by two countries, the Republic of Mozambique and the Kingdom of Eswatini and that all rivers are part of the internationally shared basins. He outlined that the Komati-Usuthu basin is shared with the Republic of Mozambique and the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Mr Guma further outlined the water resource challenges in the province which include stressed catchments where demand exceed availability / allocation of water resources due to climate variability and anthropogenic activities, deteriorating water resource quality due to water and waste management at local government, unauthorised water abstractions, non-payment of water resource management charges resulting in huge water debt, and the need for transformation of water allocation to address the historical disparity in allocation across all race groups.
The NWRS-3 workshop broke into four commissions which looked and deliberated on issues of increasing water supply, managing water and sanitation services, regulating the water and sanitation sector, reducing water demand, redistributing water for transformation, promoting international cooperation, creating effective water sector institutions, addressing legislative and policy gaps, managing water and sanitation under a changing climate, improving raw water quality, protecting and restoring ecological infrastructure, data collection, analysis and information management for effective monitoring, evaluation and reporting, building capacity for action, ensuring financial sustainability and enhancing research development and innovation.
Inputs from the commissions included the need for government to enforce documented legislation, the need to speed up the transformation and capacitation of water user associations, the need to regulate all sectors equally, the review of the licensing fees, increase public-private partnerships, climate change adaptation strategies, the fastracking of the verification and validation process and the need for improved intergovernmental relations.
The outcomes of the Mpumalanga NWRS 3 consultative workshop will go a long way in ensuring sustainable water resource management for the socio-economic development of the country.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.