Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has celebrated the strong collaboration between South Africa and the Netherlands regarding water management.
“Netherlands is … well known globally because of their expertise in water. They are very skilled in water management and a partnership with them … helps us to lift our skills level on water management as South Africa,” Mchunu said.
Mchunu made the remarks during a visit to the Blesbokspruit wetland in Ekurhuleni, where His Majesty the King of Netherlands, Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima visited the Blue Deal South Africa project on Wednesday.
The Blesbokspruit wetland has challenges with poor water quality due to the massive growth of water hyacinth. During the tour, the King and Queen saw how water hyacinth is removed. This is not only done by hand and machines, but researchers are experimenting with biological control, including fleas from South America.
The wetland is a water project which South Africa and the Netherlands are currently implementing under the banner “Blue Deal South Africa Programme”.
The goal of the Blue Deal South Africa partnership is to have access to clean, sufficient and safe water for 2.5 million people in South Africa in 2030.
The Blue Deal South Africa Programme aims to support water management worldwide by exchanging knowledge and experiences and assist national, regional and local organisations.
The programme will specifically contribute to clean and sufficient water.
Through the partnership, the South African Water Institutions work together with the Dutch Water Authorities, with the first four local projects already been identified to improve water quality.
Combating pollution, optimisation of wastewater treatment plants and combating invasive species are among the local goals.
Speaking to SAnews.gov.za on the sidelines of the King and Queen's visit to the wetland, Mchunu said it was an important interaction after the last meeting between South Africa and the Netherlands at the Global Conference in Water and Sanitation, held in New York, in March 2023.
Mchunu said the two countries recently renewed the Blue Deal initiative.
“This is a project of maintaining this ecosystem for the benefit of South Africans. This wetland is one of the biggest wetlands in the country and its water contributes to the main system, the Vaal River System, which supports around 20 million people.
“The Blesbokspruit wetland is one of the most important systems in the world, and therefore, the work that we are doing in partnership with Netherlands to protect this wetland, even via the moving of the hyacinth, is beneficial in many respects. But the main core business is to keep the wetland alive,” Mchunu said.
The Minister said the department often sends officials to the Netherlands for training on their water management projects as well as areas of work.
“We have practical collaborative programmes, where we join hands and maintain this wetland together.”
During their tour of the wetland, King Willem-Alexander also visited a greenhouse where the fleas are grown and watched them being introduced to the water hyacinth, while Queen Máxima spoke to a local entrepreneur who uses the dried water hyacinth to weave baskets and other useful products to sell.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are currently on a State Visit to South Africa, which will take place from 18 to 20 October 2023. – SAnews.gov.za
Source: South African Government News Agency