Beating S.Africa's water crisis


Approximately 37 per cent of South Africa’s drinkable water is lost every year and as the World Economic Forum in Davos proceeds, the hope is that representatives of the country will use the conference to discuss ways to alleviate the crisis.

According to South African Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane one of the reasons we are still struggling with a water crisis is because we continue to deal with water treatment in an “archaic manner”.

“Part of our presence here at the World Economic Forum has to do with investment on water infrastructure because the loss of that volume of water has to do with aged infrastructure and backward systems of water management rather than us being high-tech and smart,” said Mokonyane

“The issue of desalination is no longer something that is up for discussion – it has become a reality.”

Mokonyane also wants to highlight the need for links between other African countries to be better as a way to gain access to water from the Zambezi River

“We need to partner with our neighbouring countries and therefore investment across Africa through the presidential infrastructure commission chaired by [South Africa’s] President [Jacob] Zuma are some of the things that we are bringing here.”

The aim is to let the fourth industrial revolution provide South Africa with new opportunities in terms of innovation, working more efficiently, reskilling the people and making sure there are future employment opportunities for young people the minster said.

Supporting the renewable energy mission

“Part of the reasons behind why we support the interventions in terms of renewable energies is to move away from high dependence on electricity that consumes lots and lots of drinkable water that we could be supplying for domestic use,” she said.

The collaboration with the Department of Energy is important in terms of the hydro systems.

“To relieve a water scarce country from being highly dependent on the supply of water whilst we also know that without the availability of energy, we’ll also battle to be able to pump through water,” she added.

Future prospects for South Africa

“One of the cities in South Africa (Ethekwini) has been identified by the Water Resource Group (a United Nations body) as one of the cities in the world where we are going to introduce smarter systems of the rehabilitation of our infrastructure,” Mokonyane said.

The minster says their input toward the fourth industrial revolution theme is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor by skilling people in developing countries and providing alternative solutions for water use and water management.

“We don’t have to wait for 2030 or for tomorrow, we must start today – start by saving in your house, don’t play games in the shower, avoid water demanding irrigation solutions.”