Water is a fundamental concern of virtually every nation, playing a diverse and often inter-dependent but vital role in the individual and collective lives of its entire citizenry.
A single country like South Africa may well seek to “solve” its water-related problems by itself, but most of these have dimensions that extend beyond the borders, and many lessons learnt elsewhere may well be applicable at home. The Academy function is perfectly designed to bridge the gap between the knowledge and capacity of one country and harnessing regional and global solutions.
The State of Water in Southern Africa
In July 2011, ASSAf hosted a workshop on “The State of Water in Southern Africa” in Pretoria. The purpose of the workshop was to determine the key water issues and challenges facing the SADC region and to highlight similarities between countries. The focus was on Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The outcome was a policymakers’ booklet entitled “Science, Water and Sanitation: Supporting Equitable and Sustainable Development”, which was published in 2011. The booklet outlines the role that science academies can play in assisting policymakers and managers to address some of the key water challenges in the southern African region. It is intended to be useful to policymakers in the water sector, and to policymakers in those sectors that are major water users, such as the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors, as well as those with a mandate to protect the natural environment and those whose policies and decisions impact directly or indirectly on water quantity, quality and accessibility.
The policymakers’ booklet was launched in Mauritius during a Water Conference that was held in March 2012. It was also presented at the African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW) meeting held in Cairo, Egypt in May 2012.