Water and Sanitation on revamp of War on Leaks programme

Government revamps War on Leaks programme

At a special joint MinMec (Ministers and MECs) meeting in Johannesburg today, co-chaired by the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, and her CoGTA counterpart, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Government took a decision to give renewed impetus to the War-on-Leaks (WoL) programme. The programme seeks to train youth in disciplines that will empower them to be able to assist local government to reduce the non-revenue water from malfunctioning infrastructure.

The Ministers instructed officials of both departments to make sure that the programme is sufficiently funded up to the point of an exit strategy being properly executed. Affected municipalities will be properly consulted on the nitty-gritties of rolling out the programme.

The MinMEC meeting also decided to identify municipalities with high water losses where the trained youths would be deployed. South Africa is losing an average of R7,2 billion a year, which has a negative impact on the economy.

The MinMEC also received a joint presentation with regard to drought interventions across the country by the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the DWS. The DWS has reprioritised more than R600 million of its finances towards assisting in the short-term drought interventions.

The National Treasury has also allowed the DWS to use emergency procurement measures in drought stricken areas.

The meeting noted the presentation and recommendations on the measures towards drought relief. The Ministers directed that all efforts towards drought relief need urgent decision making and execution. There was also a directive to the CoGTA officials to assist and guide the affected provincial governments with regard to drought disaster declarations. The Ministers indicated that it is not acceptable that with the situation as it is only two provinces have so far declared provincial drought disasters.

The presentation and plan indicated that measures will be put in place and sustain such measures during the short and medium term, with a specific focus on development, management and use of groundwater. Other long term interventions will include the treatment and use of effluent, as well as desalination of sea water.

The meeting expressed its concern about the tankering of water by municipalities in drought-stricken areas as the practice tended to open floodgates towards corruption. As part of solving this difficulty, there is a suggestion that the tankers should rather be procured and owned by the municipalities for local use. This will also afford the municipalities an opportunity to identify local labour that will be trained and be responsible for the maintenance and utilisation (driving) of these trucks, as part of the normal work of municipalities.

Source: Government of South Africa