Source: The African Christian Democratic Party
Title: ACDP: Dudley: Speech by ACDP member of Parliament on Water Affairs budget vote, National Assembly
"The mandate of the Department of Water Affairs is to regulate the water sector nationally; develop national policy, norms, standards and guidelines; and provide targeted support to municipalities, facilitating equitable and sustainable social and economic development, and ensuring the universal and efficient supply of water services at the local level. <#_ftn1>
The need to roll out basic services and water supply in support of human settlement development together with the President's comments in the State of the Nation Address that government intends to put in place measures to reduce unacceptably high water losses through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure would appear to have influenced the additional allocations to the Department of Water Affairs yet budget allocation to relevant programmes have declined. This is somewhat confusing. The ACDP does not see how the water infrastructure development and maintenance that the President referred to in the 2010 State of the Nation Address is going to be achieved when the National Water Resources Infrastructure Programme of the Department experienced a budget cut.
Accelerated investment in water infrastructure is needed to overcome the internal barriers that are likely to hold South Africa's productive potential back. Such investments will contribute to growth and poverty reduction and increase agricultural productivity...all of which impact on our ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Regional Management and Water Sector Regulation programmes, which focus on improvement of water resources management, promotion of intergovernmental relations, the implementation of water sector plans in the provinces, building institutional capacity in local Government; fostering better international donor cooperation, and promoting regional cooperation and water security in Africa has however seen significant real growth and is some encouragement.
The water sector, in South Africa, is grappling with the universal challenges of access and quality, combined with concerns about resource availability. There are many South Africans, especially those in rural municipalities that depend on raw water directly harvested from rivers, which in many instances leads to the contracting of waterborne diseases. Rural development, food security and land reform will all require successful implementation of natural resources management programmes.
The provision of effective support to all municipalities will be critical in ensuring access to water and sanitation...and improving the Department's capacity to do this will necessitate the retention and development of suitable skills in the water sector. <#_ftn2>
The ACDP notes that the Estimates of National Expenditure [Vote 37 (p.815)] reports that the Department of Water Affairs owns ‘approximately' 350 dams across South Africa. We are curious as to why the exact number of dams is not known since dams are clearly visible and either there or not there! Is this an indication that issues of incompetence in the Department need to be investigated?
The underfunding of this department could have severe repercussions and have a ripple effect, impacting negatively on multiple budgets.
The ACDP will however, support this budget despite serious reservations regarding this underfunding."