Japan hands over water training centre to South Africa

Japan hands over water training centre to South Africa

The Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has handed over a multi-million dollar water training centre to South Africa.

South African Minister of Human Settlements Water and Sanitation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, received the Roodeplaat Training Centre by Ambassador Maruyama Norio, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of South Africa in an event that took place at Roodeplaat outside Pretoria on Monday.

The event was also attended by the Minister of Co-operation, Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Deputy Minister David Mahlobo, David Mahlobo; President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Polokwane Local Municipality Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng; and the MMC for Infrastructure inTshwane, Councillor Phillip Nel.

The Japanese Government, through JICA, funded the construction of the training facility at the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The Training Yard covers the basics of training artisans to deal with water losses in communities. The designs of the training yard were conducted by the DWS engineers with technical support from JICA.

The training of artisans comes against the background of growing concerns about the huge amounts of water losses –estimated at more than US $600 million a year –in South Africa.

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A South African company was contracted by JICA to construct the Training Yard. DWS Engineers will handle all the activities including the maintenance of the Training Yard to ensure sustainability of the programme. The completed Training Yard is ready to be handed over to the South African Government by the Japanese Government. Sisulu will take ownership of the water training centre on Non-Revenue Water Management from Ambassador Maruyama.

Ambassador Maruyama said the objective of his government’s assistance in South Africa’s water sector was to give support for skills development of local municipalities who are faced with challenges of water losses known as non-revenue water.

“The area of non-revenue water is one of the major challenges Operation Vulindlela will drive the economic reform of South Africa. The Japanese assistance will help municipalities to improve their performance in water services and to address challenges of economic reforms at grass root level.”

He described the training centre as “more than a skills development project” JICA provides to the municipalities. “It’s a skills development that enables economic reform.”

Minister Sisulu said water was under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands of agriculture and industry and the worsening impacts of climate change.

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“The Department and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) are faced with a similar challenge regarding the state of Non-Revenue water in South Africa. The Municipalities do not have the capacity and opportunity to train their officials on Non-Revenue water and the country does not have a specific functional facility available to offer training on Non-Revenue water. It is clear that the Japanese model of non-revenue water management is the easiest in that it focuses mainly on the practical side of dealing with non-revenue water than theory. We’ll continue to work with SALGA, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, SETAs and the Metros in ensuring that this project delivers on its intended objectives.”

She said lack of access to water was very personal to women, especially rural women. They were responsible for carrying water for their families to survive. They stood in long queues to wait for water and walked long distances to collect the precious resource. As a sector, this was a direct challenge to all, to change and strengthen the systems towards water use efficiency.

“Access to water and sanitation is recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights. We have all noticed the importance of ensuring water access and availability to our people during this period of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Minister Sisulu said.

Minister Dlamini Zuma said her department was part of a process to establish a non-revenue structure which she hoped would bear fruit. She attributed the problem of water scarcity to the effects of Climate Change. Water leakages and damaging infrastructure contributed to water scarcity in South Africa She called for the revival of the culture of payment of services which she said would contribute towards the improvement of water supply.