The ideal partner in multiple use water services

For the Water Research Commission (WRC) to operationalise their project on multiple water resource usage, they require a funding partner. To this end, the WRC has been appointed by the African Water Facility (AWF) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to facilitate the operationalisation of the multiple use water services in South Africa. The AWF facility, which was approved initially in 2015 to the tune of R17.5-million across Africa, will be among the resources that the WRC will use towards making the projects in the Vhembe and Sekhukhune districts sustainable.

The multiple use water services project was found to be fully aligned with the AWF strategic priorities for the 2012 to 2016 period, which seeks to prepare bankable projects for effective and sustainable investments. It also enhances water governance to create a conducive environment for effective and sustainable investments, and promote water knowledge for the preparation of viable projects and informed decision-making leading to downstream investments.

Dr Daniel Verdeil of the AWF said about their reasons for partnering in the project: “Potable water availability makes a big difference in the day-to-day life of rural communities: it reduces waterborne diseases prevalence, limits time spent to fetch water, [and] allows women and girls, who are often responsible for fetching water on long distances, to dedicate more time to productive activities and education.

“The facility is designed with the participation of the beneficiaries and [this ensures] their needs are better addressed than through the traditional top-down approach. It also increases the community ownership of the facility, and improves sustainability. This approach makes water a vector for development and inclusivity and reduces rural households’ vulnerability to climate and economic shocks.”

The project is designed to fully incorporate cross-cutting issues advocated by the AWF, including climate change adaptation and gender and social equity. The AWF’s selection criteria for participation include, among others, the alignment of the project with the government’s priorities and strategies and the potential development impact in the above as per the government’s priorities.

“We carefully check the project design in terms of gender and youth inclusivity, climate change adaptation or mitigation, environmental and social impacts,” said Verdeil.

Viriginia Molose, research manager for multiple water services in the WRC, said she sees a greater role in the partnership they have established with the AWF. This public private partnership is important in developing tools and continuing with research in this field, she said.

Molose went on to say: “This is a huge call to private sector that want to get involved in development cause. As much as we are saying to government that the solution for water use should be relevant, the same could be said to private sector, that their involvement should be rewarding over a long term. It should never be private sector seeking quick solution to their problems without making impact on the lives of the community they serve. For the bank like AfDB to go out of the way like this it shows their emphasis on the value of community participation.”

In the draft design information for projects in Khalavha and Tshakhuma the funding will go towards the R1.3-million identified to deal with, among other factors, water source development, water source fencing, water storage fencing, water main and reticulation.

The totality of this partnership ties well with the AWF’s idea of improving water knowledge by increasing the capacity for informed decision-making to guide water development planning and implementation.

Verdeil concluded: “Our objective is to ensure that inclusive growth is sustainable, by helping Africa gradually transition to ‘green growth’ that will protect livelihoods, improve water, energy and food security, promote the sustainable use of natural resources and spur innovation, job creation and economic development.”

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