On November 24, the Blue Deal Conference for the South Africa Partnership was held in Johannesburg. David Mahlobo, the South African Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, and Dutch and South African employees of the various projects were present. During the conference, the partner agreement for the Blue Deal Phase 2, which runs from 2023 to 2030, was signed.
Clean and sufficient water for 2.5 million people in South Africa by 2030: that is the goal of the South Africa Blue Deal partnership. South African and Dutch water experts work together to improve water quality in major rivers. The partnership runs from 2018 to 2030.
Hein Pieper, chairman of the Blue Deal for South Africa, was there: “We have to go faster, in this second phase. Climate change makes that necessary. And I’m not just talking about institutional changes. Projects succeed because people take responsibility. They act on the basis of underlying values and feel ownership of a project. Here in South Africa, it is about the immense importance of clean water for the basic needs of 2.5 million people.”
Objective: improving the water quality of the major rivers
The 4 projects of Phase 1 (2018-2022) focused on improving the water quality of major rivers such as the Vaal River, the Crocodile River and the Msunduzi River. A large part of this period was during the corona crisis during which only virtual meetings were possible. The Dutch and South African water experts who worked together learned a lot during this period. They kept in touch, organized virtual missions and shared knowledge through webinars. For example, about combating the water hyacinth, innovation in purification, community involvement and river management.
Reflection and looking forward
The Blue Deal conference was an important moment to reflect on the process of recent years, the successes and the challenges. Not everything went smoothly during the corona years. Political changes created different relationships and priorities. It is difficult to deal with this in an exclusively digital environment.
That’s why it’s important to keep meeting each other. That opportunity was there during the conference. More than 140 participants from various cooperation partners attended. Not only to look back, but especially to look forward to Phase 2, while using the experience of previous years. And with an increasing understanding of how we can share it with people facing similar challenges. Not only in South Africa, but also beyond.
That may all sound a bit abstract. Concrete examples? In Blesbokspruit, the local population uses the removed water hyacinth, a proliferating exotic that impedes the flow of water, as raw material for useful products. In the Vredefort Dome project, the local population is encouraged by the Blue Deal to keep the river free of waste. Blue Deal members also performed remote, virtual inspections of treatment plants in the Crocodile project. And in the Msunduzi project, the Blue Deal shared vital data between various organizations.
Curious? An impression of the projects at the end of Phase 1 of the Blue Deal South Africa can be viewed in the video.
New project added
We will enthusiastically continue with the 4 existing Blue Deal projects. And there will be a new project: Theewaterskloof. There we will work on the waste (water) problem in a township in an urban area that is expanding rapidly.a