Minister of Water and Sanitation, Mchunu has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of water resources management with two European countries.
This will set wheels in motion towards establishing and sustaining collaborations with global partners with common interests, at the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water conference in attempts to further enhance measures to ensure water security in the country.
This was evident when Minister Mchunu, along with Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips signed a new MoUs with Finland and renewed one with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The signing took place on the side-lines of the UN conference which started on Wednesday, 22 March and concluded on Friday, 24 March 2023.
The MoU between South Africa and Finland aims to promote water security and is focused on integrated water resources and river basin management, including management of groundwater/aquifer and surface water, river basin, and adaptation to, and mitigation of the impacts of climate change in water resources management as well as hydrological extremes, including flood, drought, water quality, water borne diseases and other water related risk management, amongst others.
Minister Mchunu along with Dr. Jaana Husu-Kallio, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland signed the MoU on behalf of the Governments of South Africa and Finland.
Finland has considerable expertise in water resources management and protection as well as in water-related technology, planning, construction, and research.
“Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is the dominant paradigm in contemporary water resources management. Finland has implemented such an approach for decades, aiming at win-win partnerships. It has also been the guiding principle in Finnish water legislation. Signing this MoU is a much-needed boost the sector requires back home,” Minister Mchunu stated.
Meanwhile, the MoU with the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been renewed for an additional four years and it is aimed at collaborating on inspiring and capacitating young talents in water, climate and sustainability in South Africa and abroad.
The MoU was officially signed by Dr Phillips and Mr Johan Oost, Wetskills Foundation Manager with obligations that include addressing skills gap in the water supply value chain and in technical areas within the water sector as well as to develop professional water ambassadors that can protect and manage future water resources.
In addition, the two Governments are obligated to organise various activities for students and young professional in the water sector, creating innovation and empowering young people and integrating young and established professionals in the water sector.
South Africa and Netherlands have a long relationship on water and this relationship was formalised through the signing of an MoU between the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the South African Department of Water and Sanitation in July 2014.
Minister Mchunu reiterated his stance on partnerships in the water and sanitation sector and has committed to ensure accountability and transparency when implementing the MoUs.
The Minister also met with several other countries’ leaders on the side-lines of the conference to discuss possible forging of bilateral partnerships on water and sanitation for the benefit of the respective countries. These include India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Denmark, Egypt, Palestine and Belgium.