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Hlengiwe Cele 
War on Leaks: A capacity building and awareness initiative

On 12 January 2015, President Jacob Zuma presented the State of the Nation Address (SoNA). The President then said: “Let me Honourable Speaker and Chairperson urge all in the country to conserve water. Every drop counts. The country loses seven billion rand a year to water losses. To mitigate this challenge, Government through the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) will train fifteen thousand artisans and or plumbers who will fix leaking taps in their local communities.”

Within a five-year project lifespan, 15 000 youth / citizens will be trained within three disciplines to ensure that South Africa’s Water and Sanitation Sector is equipped with a competent arsenal of skills and capacity, to proactively challenge and minimize water losses in the country - a liability with a national average of 37% and a cost implication in access of R7 billion.

The greatest contributors to water losses were identified to be as a result real losses, commercial losses and unbilled authorised consumption. Leaking taps and toilets were also identified to account for high losses in the country. Taking into consideration the contributors to water losses, The War on Leaks project aims to decrease water leaks by training and professionalising unemployed youth / citizens to improve the overall water use efficiency within municipalities, communities and households. The end result will raise water conservation and water demand management awareness and instill appreciation for water inmunicipalities, communities and households.

A three-phased approach has been identified for the recruitment, training and deployment of the plumbers, artisans and water agents over the project period. The distribution in terms of numbers recruited, trained and deployed over the five year project period will be, 3 000 intake in 2015, 5 000 intake in 2016 and 7 000 intake in 2017, to make up the total of 15 000 as mentioned by the President in his 2015 SONA speech.

The trainees will upon deployment have a long-term impact on water losses, reduction of non-revenue water, policy improvements and competent available human resources capacity within the broader framework of water conservation and water demand management. This will be achieved through the constant engagements and consultations with the priority municipalities identified as recipients of the project.

The DWS has provided Rand Water with a list of priority municipalities that experience high water losses, these areas will be prioritised based on the list, and their challenges will be used to correctly design and implement interventions per priority area of the project to ensure that the project meets its primary and secondary objectives, which are to minimise water losses, and create capacity and employment within the various communities and the country.

The War on Leaks project for South Africa will serve as benchmark to other such initiatives by producing results that will positively impact on the broader water conservation and water demand management strategies of the country and create employment for thousands ofunemployed citizens who eventually will be able to sustain their livelihoods with good honest employment. This will be achieved by ensuring that the trainees at the end of the project are sustained through further employment, incubators, entrepreneurships, cooperatives and small business enterprise development.

A summary of the achievements to date on the war on leaks project are:

·       Trainees from various provinces in the country have been interviewed.

·       Numbers of trainees from each province to be contracted in phase one for the launchon 28 August 2015 in Nelson Mandela Bay in total will equal 3 000.

The induction and formal orientation for these learners has begun. Artisans and plumbers will undergo a full three year training programme to qualify in their respective disciplines. Water Agents will undergo unit standards based training and complete their training period in eight months.  All qualified learners will be deployed to various priority municipalities after their training. The Energy and Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA) will be responsible for all training and development of learners.

 Details of the launch are as follows:

 Date: 28 August 2015

Time: 09:00

Venue: Dan Qeqe Stadium, Zwide, Port Elizabeth

For more information on the launch contact Mr Sputnik Ratau , Cell: 082 874 2942 Email: rataus@dws.gov.za

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