The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan will be presented to Cabinet for approval shortly, Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Monday.
The Minister was speaking at the opening of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) biennial conference and exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
The master plan, which received public comment in January, aims to assist in the provision of water as well as sanitation services for the country.
The Minister said the Southern African region is increasingly faced with uncertainty and vulnerability regarding water supply, adding that South Africa is the 30th driest country in the world.
Nkwinti said the department has developed a five pillar turnaround strategy, aspects of which can only take effect in the next Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF 2019 to 2024).
These pillars are:
- A National Water Resources and Services Authority: The authority will be established to finance, develop, manage and operate national water resource infrastructure and sanitation.
- A National Water Resources and Services Regulator: The possibility of an independent economic regulator to regulate tariffs, standards and performance in the water services sector has been proposed and processes are underway to consult on the appropriateness of such an institution.
- A Water Resources and Services Value Chain: The water and sanitation sector is currently comprised of a large number of institutions with a complex suite of functions divided among them which creates an overly complex value chain (currently 428 entities) which needs to be streamlined.
- A Water Resources and Services Master Plan: A plan which sets out prioritised actions and investments which the department must implement between now and 2030 to overcome challenges and ensure a water secure future supporting inclusive development across the country, and also to ensure that universal sanitation coverage protects the health of South Africans.
- Institutional Rationalisation and Organisational alignment: An early action will be to establish a business case for streamlined institutional rationalisation and organisational alignment in the water sector in accordance with the outcomes of the Presidential review on State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
The Minister stressed that the pillars require implementation support from all involved in the water sector.
“These pillars require implementation support from all levels within the sector. As a first step to give effect to these pillars, we have streamlined the organogram of the department in order to respond more efficiently and effectively to the challenges.”
He added that the pillars are fully embedded into the Master Plan with a more detailed implementation plans still to be finalised through a round of stakeholder engagements which will take place during the latter half of the year.
In addition, Nkwinti highlighted the importance of partnerships in the sector with organisations in the international environment as this brought with it opportunities to enhance local expertise.
“We of course also have a lot to offer our international partners in terms of our own expertise and the very significant research, development and innovation by our own institutions such as the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and our universities,” he said.
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