‘Water literacy’ starts in schools, say experts
Cape Town’s successful avoidance of Day Zero following its recent serious water crisis was held up as a shining example by more than 130 global experts who convened at the University of the Western Cape this week.
Cape Town is one of 12 major cities in the world regarded as “most likely to run out of drinking water” – the W12 which also includes Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo and Miami.
Administrators from these cities met with scientific, policy and non-profit organisation leaders to develop a W12 road map of what they and their partners need to do to effectively deal with the crisis of water shortages globally.
This initial mini-conference is a precursor to a W12 congress in May, also in Cape Town.
Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu met with stakeholders beforehand to discuss how they could help the ministry to secure funding to implement South Africa’s national water and sanitation master plan.
International funding requirements hold that this be managed by local banks and insurers.
Sisulu says a key objective is to structure the department to make it fit for purpose and able to eliminate wastage and any loss due to corruption and mismanagement of resources.
Speaking at a press briefing, civil society representative Reverend Rachel Noah said climate change should be included in the national school curriculum as a matter of urgency.
Professor Jenny Day, a freshwater ecologist and chair of Cape Town’s Protected Areas Advisory Committee, concurred: “Two useful projects to look at going forward include improving water literacy at school level through the curriculum, and society via social media and citizen action projects – as well as water governance. We need closer examination of the decision processes around who gets what water, when and how.
“The flow of water is a right but currently it flows towards power, and that needs to change.”
Dr Gregg Brill, deputy director of the Green Economy Programme within the Western Cape department of economic development and tourism, said: “Government, businesses, the agricultural industry, society – we all need to work together to embed a value system that drives collective decision-making based on trust and transparency, fairness, collaboration and integrity,” he said.
“The global water crisis means that we all need to step back and start reconsidering the economic, social and ecological value of water.”