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National Water Week, 18 - 24 March 2013

The National Water Week is an awareness week campaign by the Department of Affairs which serves as a powerful campaign mechanism re-iterating the value of water, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role water plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa.

The campaign seeks to continue building on the ongoing awareness creation within the broader South African community. This awareness creation is coupled with the responsibility that every citizen must take in ensuring the integrity of our water resources and its efficient use. Particularly, the linkages between water services, supply, resource management, poverty eradication, social and economic development are emphasised in a number of innovative ways. The campaign has been influenced by local needs and international sectoral trends.

The awareness week campaign will take place from 18-24 March 2013 under the theme “Water is life - Respect it, Conserve it, Enjoy it”. The theme seeks to accentuate and emphasize the fact that water is central to all forms of life and that everyone has a responsibility to conserve and use it sparingly. It is therefore incumbent upon every individual and institution to use it conservatively and sustainably since ours is a water scarce country. In South Africa, March is also regarded as Human Rights Month and as such, the 21st of March will see the country celebrating human rights day.

This year’s National Water Week celebrations coincide with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declaring 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. The UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation, in particular because of the organization’s unique multidisciplinary approach which blends the natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication.

The objective of the Year of International Water Cooperation is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services. The Year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify burning issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and the linkages with the Millennium Development Goals. There won’t be events that are international in nature but in their speeches and engagements both Principals will allude to the issues aligned to the focus of the international water theme.

As custodians of this awareness week, the Department of Water Affairs is encouraging all South Africans to focus on the need to restore and preserve the integrity of this most precious resource, water. South Africans must take responsibility to make sure this scarce resource is managed in an effective and sustainable manner. Remember to report the misuse of water and other faults to the nearest municipal offices or call the Department’s toll free number at 0800 200 200.