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Hlengiwe Cele  
Fresh water governance dialogues appropriate for South Africa

The Fresh Water Governance Conference, attended by over   400 delegates from 26 countries and 5 continents, and held at the Champagne Sports Resort, Drakensberg, from 5 to 7 November, came at a fitting time for South Africa – the Department of Water Affairs is currently looking for contributions to its second National Water Resource Strategy, as noted by Adv. Johnny de Lange, Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs, in his opening address.

De Lange noted that the conference had an important task – to look at how water governance can contribute to what the National Water Resource Strategy  termed 'developmental water management' – water management that contributes directly and appropriately to the developmental requirements of the country, including the development of water infrastructure, large and small. Developmental water management needs innovative, high-calibre water managers with a clear understanding of equitable development, how the state must intervene, and how to build the partnerships with the private sector and civil society to make equitable development happen. We need African solutions for African problems, taking the best from the rest of the world and making it work for us and our priorities and needs.

De Lange highlighted the issues relating to the mining industry, and the cost to the country as a result of the delays in the process.  He further emphasised the fact that while serving the needs of big business, the mines, and the farmers, our water resource management systems must also ensure that 'Mrs Mkhwanazi, just down the road from here', and others like her, are able to access water for productive and domestic purposes, have access to sustainable sanitation services, are able to access road and transport services to get their produce to market, and can make a living that enables them to feed and educate their families, and to live with dignity.

An interview held with Advocate Johnny de Lange highlighted key issues the conference looked at, gender and class and shared the Portfolio Committee's  position on mines  currently operating without water use licences.

Video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlGUrkUQoVw&feature=plcp

Contact : Hlengiwe Cele  012 330 0340 or e-mail hlengiwec@wrc.org.za

Advocate Johnny de Lange, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs
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