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South Africa hosts 5th Wetskillls Water Challenge to enhance innovative thinking in the water sector

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South Africa hosts 5th Wetskillls Water Challenge to enhance innovative thinking in the water sector

25th February 2021

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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in conjunction with the Wetskills Foundation, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch Water Authorities Africa and Blue Deal programme are hosting the 5th Wetskills Water Challenge in South Africa on 25 February-09 March 2021.  

The Wetskills Water Challenge is a two-weeks pressure-cooker programme for students and young professionals with a passion for water. They join the programme, coming from all over the world and work in transdisciplinary and transcultural teams on challenging water cases. 

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According to Odwa Ntsika Mtembu, a Geologist and Geographer at DWS and Wetskills SA Programme officer and Supervisor, the two-weeks Challenge comes amid the persistent unpredictable weather patterns resulting in drought and the recent heavy flooding as experienced in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

“It is such a huge privilege that as a country we are hosting the 5th Wetskills Water Challenge with the most young brilliant minds the country has. The water topic should be on everyone’s agenda, especially as a country ranked top 30 driest countries in the world,” said Mtembu. 

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According to Mtembu, more than 20 participants joining the programme include the Department’s bursary holders, graduate trainees and officials within the Department with a keen interest in convening solutions and innovative ways to address water scarcity concerns in the country.

“We are hosting the programme virtually because we want to comply with COVID-19 regulations, while also keeping everyone safe,” he said. 

He added that Diploma, Bachelor, Master, PhD students and recent graduates (young Professionals with maximum of 5 years working experience) have been invited to participate in the Challenge. 

Some of the case studies which will be tackled include sustainable empowerment of local community for cleaning rivers, swamp-friendly water hyacinth harvesting and virtual reality experience for capacitating staff which will be focusing on infrastructure maintenance, a lack of investment and Inadequate technical skills and its impact thereof. 

The central theme for the 2021 Wetskills Water Challenge is “valuing future water leaders, shaking the water-energy-food cocktail with their inclusive & catalytic capacity.”

Issued by the Department of Water & Sanitation

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