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Source: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Title: B Sonjica: Water Research Commission Open Day
WATER RESEARCH COMMISSION (WRC) OPEN DAY AND LAUNCH OF THE "CAREERS
IN WATER" GUIDE KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF
WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY, Grahamstown, 22 July 2004
Chairperson of the Board of the Water Research Commission, Prof
Kasan; Director-General of Water Affairs and Forestry, Mr Muller;
the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Research Commission, Dr
Kfir; Honoured Guests, Educators and Learners, I greet you all this
Programme Director, it gives me great pleasure to launch this
innovative guide, which focuses on careers, especially careers in
the water sector.
I would like to note with great appreciation this strategic
contribution by the Water Research Commission to the country's
human resource development especially in the area of scarce skills
that, according to the different surveys that have been conducted,
we suffer dearly.
The National Research and Development Strategy that, as a country
we adopted in 2002, seeks to address the huge gap we have in the
area of scarce skills, especially science and technology, among
others. The strategy highlights our dire situation with regard to
the numbers of researchers we have. It states, that:
"Our human resources in science and technology are not being
adequately developed and renewed; we have an aging and shrinking
scientific population. The key indicators show that black and women
scientists, technologists and engineers are not entering the
academic ranks and that the key infrastructure consists of people
who will soon retire."
The Water Research Commission, true to its mission of being South
Africa's hub for water-centred knowledge, is also taking a serious
step to respond to this capacity gap. This initiative is one facet
of the Commission's commitment to bridge chasms by embarking on
capacity-building drives. The initiative to launch "careers in
water" will surely unlock the potential of especially young South
Africans as well as create conducive environment for them to
develop into distinguished (water) scientists.
Good quality water is undoubtedly central to our country's economy:
It is a vital ingredient in the domestic, industrial and
agricultural sectors. South Africa, being a water-stressed country,
needs to manage this scarce resource judiciously, hence careers in
water is a vital need.
Ladies and gentlemen, the importance of research in modern,
knowledge-based economies cannot be overemphasised. Research in
support of policy is also crucial to sound governance. The "Careers
in Water" process should be able to guide careers in the field of
water to contribute towards government's socio-economic development
programmes, especially in the area of Local Economic Development
for the benefit of ordinary people. Remember, it is mainly to the
poorest of the poor that the water sector and our department can be
a strategic and a significant partner.
I would also appeal to the WRC to contribute to placing Science at
the service of humanity as a whole and to make Science contribute
directly to the quality of life of present and future
As we celebrate our first decade of democracy, we can be proud of
the fact that our water provision and sanitation services have
improved radically, especially as far as the rural and peri-urban
populations are concerned. However, in order to ensure
sustainability of this precious resource, all South Africans need
to show commitment to conserving water and the infrastructure
There is a dire need for people to join hands with Government in
order to benefit from a clean and reliable source of water as well
as a safe and hygienic sanitation service.
People working in the field of water make a major contribution to
the quality of life of individuals as well as the long-term
sustainability of the country. We need more skilled people in the
water sector, particularly people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Hence, this guide is an avenue to meeting this critical goal and as
government, we are cognisant of the fact that this can only be
achieved though robust and sustainable public-private
There are many opportunities for people who would like to pursue a
career in the water sector, be it in central, provincial, or local
government, the water industry, other related services or
The emphasis on the multidisciplinary approach to research is also
of vital importance because we all know that our challenges do not
respect disciplinary boundaries.
The material being exhibited here today is an exciting example of
knowledge that social scientists, natural scientists and engineers
working in the water field have produced and are still
This knowledge should be used to improve the way we, as a country
and as a society, provide for water and sanitation services and
manage and use our precious water resources. In the process we will
be contributing to better health, sustainable livelihoods,
reduction in poverty and a better environment.
It is important that you, the learners, make the correct subject
choice for your future so that you enjoy job satisfaction and, more
importantly, so that you are a valuable asset to your country's
machinery. This guide has been specially designed for you by the
Water Research Commission, should you be interested in becoming
part of South Africa's vibrant water sector - the direction to
which I will encourage you. Use it wisely.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to officially launch
"Careers in Water", a career guide prepared by the Water Research
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
22 July 2004
Source: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry