South Africa

The challenge

South Africa’s water challenges are real and tangible. Water demand is expected to rise over the next 20 years while its supply is likely to decline. Persistently poor usage habits, physical and commercial water losses and ecological degradation, such as the loss of wetlands, have been among the chief causes for the impending crisis. Population growth in South Africa is playing a significant role in increasing water demand while economic growth has led to increased water requirements for agricultural and industrial uses. The two factors, considered together, have led to a growing middle class which has a larger water consumption rate overall.

Water scarcity means increasingly higher water costs, and allocative forces then direct water to prioritise urban and industrial, where the country’s increase in total water demand is largely attributable to. South Africa will have to resolve tough trade-offs between agriculture, key industrial activities such as mining and power generation, and large and growing urban centers. According to the analysis done by the Water Resources Group, based on growth projections and current efficiency levels, it is anticipated thata water supply-demand gap of 17% will exist by 2030. This gap is critical, and if sustainable socio economic growth is to be envisioned, such a gap has to be dealt with decisively over this period.

Our role

To close that water gap over the next two decades, South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs welcomed a partnership with the 2030 WRG to foster a public-private-civil society collaboration to support the South African government’s water strategy and overall national water security. Together, the Department of Water Affairs and 2030 WRG catalyzed a South African multi-stakeholder leadership group called the Strategic Water Partners Network – South Africa (SWPN-SA).

This Network has since established itself as a leading vehicle to foster collaboration across government, industry and civil society, to identify and take forward shared actions, and to help close the country’s projected water gap. It has been jointly developing pilot projects under that cause and, particularly, in developing three work streams in: (i) water efficiency and leakage reduction, (ii) effluent and wastewater management, and (iii) agriculture and its supply chain. Progress so far has been very encouraging. At the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013 in Cape Town, Minister Molewa presented the progress of the SWPN-SA’s National Impact Projects; combined, and rolled out at scale, it is estimated that the “No Drop” and Effluent pilot National Impact Projects have the potential to close South Africa’s projected 17% water gap by about 3.8%.

The project in South Africa has in fact achieved numerous positive milestones, which we invite you to read about in greater depth in our newsletter and approach. A closer understanding of the stakeholders engaged in the process can be found in our partners page.