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Source: Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry
Title: B Sonjica: 10th Year celebration of EU co-operation in water
sector in SA
10TH YEAR CELEBRATION OF THE EU CO-OPERATION IN THE WATER SECTOR IN
SOUTH AFRICA SPEECH BY MINISTER BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF WATER
AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY, 13 July 2004
Honourable Commissioner Poul Nielsen
Ambassador Lake of the EU
Premier of Limpopo, Mr Sello Moloto
MEC for Housing and Local Government, Ms Rosina Semenya
MEC for Agriculture, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi
Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality, Mr SE Moeti
Mayor of Thulamela Municipality, Khosi Vho-Makumbane
Members of the Diplomatic Community
Ladies and gentlemen, Good Morning.
It is a great honour for me to address you this morning to
celebrate ten years of co-operation between the government of a
democratic South Africa and the European Union (EU) and its
Commission in meeting the most vital need of our people - clean
water and safe sanitation.
I need to begin by thanking the EU on behalf of South Africa for
their continuous support to service delivery and poverty
alleviation and as the largest donor to SA. The financial support
from the EU to the water sector since 1994 has been ~140 Million,
more than one thousand million Rand.
Commissioner Nielsen, I know you are not new to South Africa
especially not to Limpopo Province. During WSSD in Johannesburg in
September 2002, together with my predecessor, you visited Vergelen
Village near Bochum and stressed the priority of providing safe
drinking water and sanitation to all. As important, the EU's member
governments were busy at the negotiating tables to ensure that
sanitation was recognised as a global development goal. Political
support for the sanitation goal is, just as much as your
development support to us, a clear sign of the EU's commitment to
helping the people of Africa attain a better life.
The EU's involvement in South Africa's water sector dates back
before 1994 when, as a contribution to the transformation and
democratisation of the country, the EU supported the Kagiso Trust's
rural water programme. The Mvula Trust, today a respected NGO, was
founded as part of that far-sighted initiative, to implement the
programme and lay the foundation for our co-operation today.
Following the achievement of democracy, the EU expanded its support
to the sector, through the DWAF Community Water Supply and
Sanitation programme in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape and with a
continuation of support to civil society through the NGO Rural
Water Supply Programme implemented by Mvula Trust. In addition, the
EU provided direct support to SADC water sector projects involving
South Africa is fortunate to have enough resources to address most
of its development challenges although additional donor assistance
helps us to speed up the process as well as to do the job better.
But we quickly learnt that co-operation with donors brings
challenges. Based on what we learned in these initial projects, the
Masibambane Programme was designed.
A key challenge is to ensure that donor assistance is effectively
designed and managed to support local development strategies rather
than leading in different directions.
For this reason we sought with the Masibambane Programme to achieve
co-ordination between the many bilateral donors who have so
generously contributed to our transition from apartheid as well as
to support South Africa's own water sector programme rather than to
operate projects parallel to it. The Sector Wide Approach
harmonised donor requirements, minimised transaction costs and
reduced delays, ensuring that more of the money reached those for
whom it was intended.
This budget support approach is, we believe, what we should be
striving towards elsewhere in Africa if we are to achieve the
Millennium Development Goals of safe water and sanitation
throughout the continent. This is why we have been working with our
fellow Africans to put in place the African Water Facility, which
was launched at the African Development Bank water week in Tunis
earlier this month.
The Masibambane Programme has also highlighted our approach of
"learning by doing". It included the development of sector
institutions with a particular focus on local governments, which
are responsible for service provision. But this capacity
development has been accompanied by programmes of infrastructure
provision so that all concerned gain practical experience of the
planning, construction and operation of water service schemes. This
is the approach that we are promoting more broadly in Africa
through the African Water Facility.
The project we are opening today, the Xikundu Water Treatment
Works, is a good example of the kind of support that has been
provided. The project forms part of the Luvuvhu River Government
Water Scheme which includes the Nandoni Dam, built to provide a
reliable supply of water, even in drought years. It can produce 20
Megalitres of pure water every day and will provide a reliable
supply to 183 500 people once all have been connected to the
Already the plant has begun to supply water to villages that did
not have access to safe drinking water before, including Xikundu
Village. A connection to the existing Malamulele-Mhinga pipeline
has dramatically improved supply reliability for 60 000 people
previously receiving water from the overstretched Malamulele Water
Works. When the distribution pipeline to the Tshifudi Area is
commissioned within the next few weeks, it will supply another 36
500 people. Finally, another 81 000 people will be supplied in the
Malamulele East area, by October.
However, the challenges of providing water services to all are not
There is still a massive sanitation backlog in this area although
good progress has been made as we will see in Xikundu Village where
there has been a programme to build VIP toilets. I am pleased to
say that health and hygiene promotion have been part of the
programme. I would like to commend Vhembe District Municipality for
appointing Mrs Tshiololi as its dedicated District Sanitation
Co-ordinator to address health, hygiene and sanitation.
Our new water schemes must also be managed properly so that people
get a reliable supply. Recent surveys indicate that on any one-day,
as many as 2% of South African households are not getting water
from their normal source due to supply interruptions. This is not
good enough and local government's management capacity must be
improved, a key focus for my Department in the next few
As part of Government's programme to empower local government,
funding for infrastructure development is now being channelled
directly to municipalities through the Municipal Infrastructure
Grant. Departments like DWAF will support Local Government to plan
and implement water supply and sanitation programmes.
To take this ambitious programme forward, we are fortunate to be
able to count on the ongoing support of the EU. I understand that a
committee is sitting in Brussels, as we speak, to consider a
further three year programme of support to South Africa's Water
Services Sector valued at ~50 million (fifty million Euro = three
hundred and seventy five million Rand).
If - I would rather be hopeful and say WHEN - this is approved; the
funds will be used to support Local Government to use the Municipal
Infrastructure Grant to further reduce the basic infrastructure
backlog and to achieve reliable and sustainable services. The
programme will be led by DWAF together with our key local
government partners, SALGA and DPLG. It will complement and support
the investment by government of approximately R22, 5 billion over
the same period.
Commissioner Nielsen is serving his last term in office as the
Commissioner for Development and will leave his post at the end of
this year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for
all the support provided and, on behalf of the people of South
Africa, to wish him all the best in his future.
To the diplomatic community from the EU member states present here,
I would like to thank you for all your contributions in providing
financial and technical support to the water sector in South
Africa. Your support is highly appreciated.
To my brother Premier Sello Moloto, to MEC Semenya and Mayor Moeti,
I am delighted to come to this part of the "far north" and find
that the poorest people are already receiving Free Basic Water and
that the Vhembe DM is implementing an Indigent Policy to target
that free water supply to all households with an income of less
than R1 100 a month. This giant step will assist these poor
communities to focus their limited financial resources on other
needs such as food and education, demonstrating that water really
can wash away poverty.
To the traditional leadership in the area, you lived and worked
together before the apartheid government separated you; now we need
to pull together again, as in our Masibambane Programme, and lead
our communities to improve their lives. I know that my officials
have a very good working relationship with all of you and I would
like to appeal to all Mahosi and Tinduna to participate and
encourage your people to participate in all water development
activities. This will help us to make sound decisions about our use
of this life-giving resource.
Finally, I would like to thank the community of Xikundu Village and
the other villages around for helping to ensure that this event,
like this project, is a success. We are working for you but,
through your co-operation and commitment, you are showing other
communities in the country how to make development happen.
Issued by: Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry
13 July 2004