‘Too much, too little’ water

Jubie Matlou

There could not have been a better place than The Netherlands, with its intricate system of dykes and canals to protect the country from floods, to host the Second World Water Security Forum this week.

The conference was not meant to be an ambitious exercise to get 4E000 delegates to find consensus, according to organising committee chair Bert Diphoorn.

Rather, “the primary objective of this conference is to create wider public awareness for water issues”.

There was a stormy opening when two activists undressed in front of World Water Council chair Dr Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, preventing him from delivering his speech.

The protest was aimed at denouncing the construction of the Itoiz Dam in Spain, as well as the “wholesale privatisation of water”.

The protest represented the anti-World Bank sentiments coming from trade unions and several environmental groups.

Youth and women’s groups were also vocal, calling for equal access to water and sanitation as a matter of life and death.

The African caucus, drawing on the colonial legacy, called for infrastructure investment in water and sanitation to the tune of $20-billion annually if the continent is to come out of a cycle of economic dependency and poverty.

The Africa Water Vision for 2025 seeks to:

l strengthen governance of water resources;

l improve water wisdom;

l meet urgent water needs; and

l strengthen the financial base for desired future water needs.

It is envisaged that under the Africa Water Vision, water policy will be framed within a comprehensive and integrated approach to water resources development and management.

National water policies would be adopted at the highest political level, and followed by water resources management strategies to implement the new policy.

The water problem was best captured by Prince Willem Alexander of Orange when he responded in an interview by a group of students: “In a nutshell I would say: too much, too little, too polluted.”

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