“This (climate change) is likely to have an effect on all South Africa’s provinces but it is anticipated that the Western Cape and Northern Cape could be the most severely impacted. In particular, it is predicted that Northern Cape will get hotter and drier in the decades to come,” the minister said at Northern Cape’s Water Indaba on Thursday.
There has been much emphasis internationally on mitigation strategies, but when it comes to the water sector the focus will be more on adaptation and this is something that this Indaba will need to deliberate upon, the minister said.
She said there were a number of projects being considered with respect to solar power and clearly the Northern Cape was uniquely positioned to capitalise on this. At the same time, however, these installations will require water supply so integrated planning is essential.
Increased emphasis on water conservation and demand management is virtually non-negotiable, Sonjica said.
Unfortunately non-revenue water is far too high in many municipalities in the province and this aspect needs to be improved.
Agriculture will need to continue to strive to use water more efficiently and the Working for Water Programme must continue its work and, if possible, be expanded.
On the supply side, the minister said desalination of sea water will certainly need to be considered in some areas.
“Another good technology, particularly for domestic and garden use, is rainwater harvesting and a project to address this has been undertaken in Kareeberg Municipality,” the minister said.
Sonjica also emphasised the importance of cooperative governance in the water sector in the Northern Cape. “In almost all instances, water issues are cross cutting with respect to many other sectors, creating many interdependencies. At the same time however, water resources are recognised as a national competence which means that there is no political representation at provincial level.”
One way of addressing this, she said, was via collaborative structures. “There is a need for a political figurehead at the provincial level. If this is in place then it provides an ideal linkage and partnership arrangement not only with me but also with the Water Affairs’ Regional Office. “
The “missing piece in the jigsaw” is what one could term a Member of Executive Council (MEC) that will take over the critical linkage and political leadership role for the water sector in the province.
She further encouraged the establishment of a water-specific Inter-governmental Relation (IGR) structure to support the MEC. – BuaNews