A call for conservation and efficient utilisation of water resources as we commemorate World Water Day: 22nd March 2021
The SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax
The value of water has long been underestimated and taken for granted. The more water resources get depleted, the more we all realise how important it is for human survival. It is almost unimaginable to think of human existence without water, that is, if there would be life at all, because, as we always say, water is life. This year, the World Water Day commemoration focuses on ‘Valuing Water’.
SADC’s commitment to ensure access to affordable and clean water remains a priority for the region and this is well expressed in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30 and the SADC Vision 2050. The RISDP 2020-2030 and Vision 2050 call for the implementation of the SADC Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Programme, which aims to improve the provision of water supply and sanitation as a means to promote good public health, socio-economic development, regional integration and poverty alleviation.
SADC, believes that understanding the value of water is a critical starting point for all subsequent actions taken to preserve and efficiently utilise this valuable resource. If the value of water is overlooked, the region risks ignoring the steps needed to conserve and sustainably manage water resources, consequently leading to the continued dwindling of the much-needed investment in the water infrastructure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it evident that it is essential to invest in the provision of adequate safe water and sanitation services to prevent or contain such pandemics. Right from the onset of the pandemic, washing hands with soap and water was an effective measure to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
This year’s World Water Day should serve as a reminder to redouble our collective action on water conservation and its efficient utilization. We need to start attaching priceless value to water and take necessary steps towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on potable water and sanitation by 2030 as well as the region’s commitment to increase access to potable water and sanitation to a minimum of 75% by 2027.
The current water access levels in the SADC region of about 60% is a cause of concern considering the undisputable role that water plays in almost all facets of life, including meeting our household needs, food security, health, support to school attendance, economic development and the integrity of the region’s natural environment.
The SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP 2016-2020) on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management provides a clear guidance for an integrated water resources conservation management approach through transboundary water cooperation to ensure that water resource is well conserved and sustained for future generations in the region.
I call up on all SADC Member States and the people of the region to do their part to conserve and efficiently utilise water, recognising that, once this resource is depleted, it will be at best difficult and, at worse, impossible to restore and many lives will be lost in the process. Before the challenge of limited availability of fresh water in the region becomes unmanageable, we must rise to the occasion to ensure that best water conservation practices are applied in line with SADC Regional Water Policy which provides a framework for sustainable, integrated and coordinated development, utilisation, protection and control of national and transboundary water resources in the region.