Durban – South Africans have been charged to think of novel ways to deal with water shortages not only in their own country, but beyond our borders.
The challenge was put forward by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, as she officially opened the Water and Poverty Alleviation Conference in Durban.
She cautioned that countries with resources face the risk of invasion by people from countries who have limited access to water and food. All the more reason for South Africans to think of solutions that benefit them and their neighbours, added the deputy minister.
“As the demands on our scarce water resources increase, and as impacts of global climate change begin to bite, business and households alike are beginning to feel the risks associated with availability and quality of water,” said Mabudafhasi.
The availability of clean water, especially to women, was an issue the deputy minister said needed urgent attention.
“Lack of access to safe, hygienic and private sanitation facilities is a source of indignity, physical discomfort and insecurity,” she said.
Mabudafhasi said this also had a negative impact on the education of young girls.
“The time burden of collecting and carrying water contributes to gender gaps in school attendance. In Mozambique, rural Senegal and eastern Uganda, women spend on average 15 – 17 weeks [a year] collecting water.”
She advocated the revival of indigenous knowledge systems in preserving water resources.
“Indigenous knowledge is so important in all aspects and in water conservation too. It can also address issues around food security. It must [also] be integrated with modern methods and research.”
The Water and Environmental Affairs Department also acknowledged the Danish International Development Agency, which funded a number of Integrated Water Resources Management programmes in a few areas in the country, including eThekwini.
These projects dealt with food security in relation to the poor, HIV and Aids, water conservation awareness, fixing taps and leaks.
Mabudafhasi encouraged South Africans to not only grow vegetables to sustain their families but also investigate ways to contribute to the economy.
“We are encouraging people to grow food so that they can sell to bigger companies and become suppliers to markets. This is one way that poverty can be alleviated.” – BuaNews
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