Source: Retail Brief Africa, 18 November 2020, photo credit: National Geographic
The 6th Annual Water Stewardship Event took place on 17 November and provided examples of how strengthening water sector governance and stewardship practices can provide a pathway for a green and inclusive recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.
The pandemic has caused the country’s real Gross Domestic Product to contract by 17 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same time last year and exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities in the water sector.
Over 200 water sector representatives including officials from government, industry, finance, civil society and development organisations were in attendance for the virtual event jointly hosted by the National Business Initiative (NBI), the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN), the Royal Danish Embassy and supported by GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS).
According to the World Health Organisation, washing hands with soap and water is the single most effective measure against the spread of COVID-19, putting equitable access to water and sanitation at the center of the pandemic response.
The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan indicates that only 65 percent of South Africans have access to safe and reliable water services while 14.1 million people lack access to decent sanitation. Moreover, the South African water sector struggles with financial challenges and capacity restrictions, constraining its ability to bridge the service delivery gap, a situation exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic.