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Every year the Department of Water Affairs celebrates National Water Week in South Africa during the month of March which also features the World Water Day on the 22 March. The primary aim of this campaign is to raise awareness among South Africans about the role of water in social and economic development including the need to get citizens to change their attitudes towards water use.

The campaign emphasizes water conservation as one of the major interventions that South Africans need to appreciate if we are to guarantee water security and availability for the country. It also highlights the centrality of water as a resource in the well being of both the environment and people.

This year’s SA Water Week celebrations coincide with South Africa hosting the United Nations World Water Day celebrations in Cape Town on the 22 March 2011. The United Nations Habitat, UN Water and the African Ministers Council on Water {AMCOW} have collaborated to host this historic event on our shores to highlight the plight of city dwellers with regard to water. A range of issues will be discussed focusing on options for tackling urban water and sanitation challenges facing the African continent. The overall theme: Water for Cities – Responding to the Urban Challenge will be the compass for discussions and celebrations during this campaign.

In South Africa, March is also regarded as Human Rights Month and as such, the 21st of March will see the country celebrating human rights. For this reason and while appreciating the importance and centrality of the international theme about cities, our national theme will also focus on water as a human rights issue.

Some of the activities we can get involved in during the awareness include:

  • To adopt and clean dirty rivers in our areas

  • Report leaking and burst pipes

  • Fix leaking taps in our yards and homes

  • Avoid watering our gardens with hosepipes for long periods and during the middle of the day

  • Use buckets to wash our cars instead of the hosepipes

  • Report any illegal abstraction of water from rivers and other water sources for commercial or domestic use

  • Report industries and individuals that dumReport industries and individuals that dump their toxic waste in our rivers

The South Africa Government has come a long way since 1994 to ensure accessibility of running water to all citizens. We have worked tirelessly to make water a constitutional right for everybody. Against this background, I call on all South Africans to pay for all services rendered, including water, to ensure efficient service delivery and sustainability. South Africa is a semi-arid country, which means that we don’t have enough water to sustain our livelihoods and the economy. It is therefore important that we pay for the water that we use in order for the Government to be able to employ labour that lays pipes for reticulation and to hire skilled people such as engineers and technicians to purify this precious resource.

Unless we work together to thwart the above stated challenges, South Africa will forever be vulnerable to threats of fresh water resources due to population growth, food insecurity, urbanization, industrialization, pollution of water, poor management structures and the lack of necessary scientific and technical expertise that is so crucial to the sustainability of water.

Remember to report the misuse of our water and other faults to the nearest municipal offices or call the Department’s toll free number at 0800 200 200.