Water relations: SA and Denmark join hands

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu with Denmark Ambassador Elsebeth Sondergaard Krone. Picture: Supplied

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu with Denmark Ambassador Elsebeth Sondergaard Krone. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 21, 2024


Durban — While parts of KwaZulu-Natal do not have a water supply, officials from South Africa and Denmark met on Monday to continue working hand-in-hand to strengthen relations on water services.

Senzo Mchunu, Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), met the new Denmark ambassador to South Africa, Elsebeth Sondergaard Krone, and the new Counsellor for Water and Research, Tine Anbæk, in Waterkloof, Pretoria.

Wisane Mavasa, spokesperson for DWS, said the department and Denmark have also in the past entered into an agreement of co-operation in the innovation and management of water services.

“We have a lot more work to do regarding water, and part of my main focus is water infrastructure, constructing, refurbishing and maintaining,” Mchunu stated.

Krone said: “It is paramount to do things that will have an impact.”

The DWS, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Higher Education and Science (MHES), the Department of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through their Danish Embassy, signed a three-year agreement for Phase 3 of the collaboration on behalf of the SA and Denmark Strategic Sector Co-operation (SSC).

The agreement will run from May 2023 to April 2026 and consists of five parts, namely, Water Services Management, Groundwater, Water Efficiency in Industries, Research and Innovation, and a Project Support Facility focusing on financing water-related projects.

“Key outputs from phases one and two include groundwater management track, urban/water services track, water use efficiency in industry, research and innovation and project support facility,” Mavasa said.

eThekwini Ratepayers Protest Movement (ERPM) chairman Asad Gaffar said SA was lucky to get the support from other countries but the disappointment is that these funds are never used correctly.

“Most of these funds come in as support to make drinking water available to the poorest of the poor but again they never end up being used for this purpose.”

The SA Human Rights Commission’s KZN Water Inquiry report stated that poor planning and management of resources are among the key factors affecting water supply. Areas such as Newlands West, oThongathi, Durban, uMlazi and Lamontville experienced daily water interruptions.

The commission’s deputy chairperson Chris Nissen said excuses from the entities ranged from “30 years was not enough to fix the problems”, to old infrastructure and vandalism.

“We also discovered that even when they provided water by tankers to communities, it was more a business, spending more money on procuring tankers than actually fixing the infrastructure.”

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to Jozini for the official opening of the Bhekindoda water system, where he opened one tap, sparked thousands of reactions on social media.

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