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Since the onset of democracy in South Africa in 1994, the role of water in the lives of South Africans has undergone considerable change, and continues to do so. While access to water for basic needs is acknowledged as a right, there is a growing need to access water for economic uses. It is an accepted fact that water is inextricably linked to growth and development. Water is an input into almost all production - agriculture, manufacturing, mining and heavy industry. Without a stable water supply, these activities are constrained and economic growth is restricted. The need to consider how water can be used to productively grow the economy is supported by the following political commitments:

  • In the 2007 State of the Nation Address, the President challenged all sectors and departments to consider seriously how they will contribute to the economic growth targets in the country and how each will support the Accelerated shared growth initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) and the Joint initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA)
  • The Minister of Water Affairs (DWA) indicated in her Budget Vote 34 of 2007/08 that DWA will support national efforts to alleviate poverty and create jobs, therefore contributing to the targeted economic growth for South Africa
  • Finally, during the March 2006 Water Week, the Minister (DWA) stated that Water for Growth and Development (WfGD) is the Masibambane III theme for the period 2007/08 to 2011/12. This is in line with international thinking as the theme for the 4th World Water Forum held in March 2006 in Mexico was also WfGD.

As stated previously, the Minister announced during Water week in March 2006 that the theme for Masibambane III is to be Water for Growth and Development. Through this DWA articulated its commitment to productively contribute to the economic growth of our country and to do its part for poverty alleviation.
The concept of for Growth and Development is not new to DWA. The idea of harnessing water for economic prosperity is embedded in the concept of Integrated Water Resource Management as well as in Strategic Water Service Delivery. DWA is committed to supporting National efforts to enhance social welfare and stimulate economic growth. We realise that the strategic and informed development and proper management of our scare water resources and the sustainable delivery of water and sanitation services to all, is not only paramount for a healthy environment and healthy community but also for a healthy economy. Thus, the purpose of developing a WfGD Framework was to set out the vision and principles of (DWA) in support of South Africa's economic growth targets, underpinned by the Accelerated shared growth in initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) and to contribute to sustainable and pro-poor social development and the War against Poverty by ensuring that water is used optimally in support of growth and development.

During July 2007, a public debate was held where the concept of harnessing water for economic and social development was explored in relation to the potential destructive forces of water. The fact that water can either contribute to- or limit development was acknowledged. It was suggested that a Framework be developed through which DWA, and the sector as a whole, could manage their core business in such a way that water serves its optimal social and economic good in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The concept of Water for Growth and Development was first consulted within DWA and the sector through various internal and sector consultation processes, amongst others through the Water Sector Leadership Forum. It was decided that four pillars be established that underpin Water for Growth and Development, these were; Social, Economic, Environmental and Planning and Development. To internalise the concept and to obtain buy-in from within DWA - pillar champions where appointed to drive the process of the development of a Framework on Water for Growth and Development.
The initial consultation lead to the development of discussion documents on WfGD. Draft version 1 was consulted within the water sector and with various government departments during the Integrated Water Resource Conference and National Water Summit during March 2008. Included in these sessions where amongst others:

  • Various National government departments (Department of Agriculture; National Treasury; Department of Provincial and Local Government; Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism etc.)ironmental Affairs and Tourism etc.)ironmental Affairs and Tourism etc.)
  • Statistics South Africa
  • Civil Society organisations
  • Chambers representing Mining, industry and business
  • Local government Structures
  • Strategic Water users such as ESKOM

The second Draft Version of the document was consulted with the sector through the Bi-annual Conference hosted by the Water Institute of South Africa. Both versions of the document were also distributed within DWA and the water sector to solicit comments. The drafting team also consulted directly with several DWA Directorates to obtain inputs into the Framework; During July 2008, all comments received were considered and where relevant, captured into The Framework on WfGD Draft Version 3.

Several later drafts were also consulted through participatory workshops, consultation sessions forming part of major water sector events such as the Bi-annual Water Institute of South Africa (WISA) conference, the Water Sector Leadership Group (WSLG) Meetings and the International Roundtable Discussion on WfGD held in November 2008.
More recently, on 22 January 2009, the Water for Growth and Development (WfGD) Framework was endorsed by Cabinet for further consultation for implementation. The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) has thus now embarked on an extensive, in-depth consultation process within the Governmental sphere as well as with various industry sectors and Civil Society.

The objective of this round of consultation is to develop sector specific targets to facilitate the successful implementation and monitoring of progress in terms of Water for Growth and Development. A collaborative approach is paramount in ensuring the success of WfGD, so too the definition of clear and measurable outcomes which all relevant role-players and stakeholders can take responsibility and be accountable for.

This round of consultation kicked-off through the launch of the WfGD Framework in conjunction with the launch of National Water Week on 2 March 2009. The National consultation Summit on WfGD was held on 26 and 27 of March 2009 where various stakeholders and role players were provided the opportunity to discuss sector specific issues regarding the recommendations set out in the WfGD Framework.

In order to intensify the consultation process, Provincial consultations will also be embarked upon. These will comprise of workshops in each of the provinces to allow for region specific issues to be discussed in detail. Parallel to this, consultations with specific line departments and sector representation will also be commenced to allow for the setting of sector specific targets.

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