A recent important chapter unfolded for the Blue Deal Crocodile River Partnership during the November 2023 work visit in Mpumalanga, South Africa, emphasising sustainable wastewater treatment.
During this work visit, the Blue Deal Crocodile River Memorandum of Understanding “Oversight Committee” was formally established, and its inaugural meeting was hosted on 16 November. The Oversight Committee is comprised of the heads of all partner institutions that are signatories to the Blue Deal Crocodile River Memorandum of Understanding. This newly established committee creates a platform where the progress made by the partnership is formerly reported to the Heads of partner institutions. This latest development is also significant progress in ensuring buy-in and support for the Blue Deal Crocodile River Partnership programme by the leadership of the partner institutions. In the future, the meetings of the Oversight Committee will sit annually to appraise the progress made by the Blue Deal Crocodile River Partnership programme.
The support from the Head of Department (HOD) at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) is deeply valued. The HOD CoGTA has accepted the role of Chairing the newly established Oversight Committee. His guidance and support directly assisted in the hosting of the committee’s inaugural meeting.
During the inaugural meeting, each task team reported progress through the lense of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Green Drop certification for the participating wastewater treatment plants. The Water Quality and Data-sharing Task Team presented a detailed examination of wastewater treatment plant discharge, emphasising the need for thorough data compliance and as to how the same would improve Green Drop scoring. Communication and intergovernmental relations Task Team reported significant strides, with a recognisable partnership logo symbolising its growing presence. The Technical Capacitation and Wastewater Treatment Works Optimisation Task Team set stretching targets for annual improvements in Green Drop scoring such as to ensure Green Drop certification by 2030. The Business Planning and Finances Task Team highlighted the key importance of business planning and finance in support of enabling wastewater treatment plants performance, and hence Green Drop certification.
Ring-fencing municipal budgets
Projections anticipate significant Green Drop Score improvements across the various wastewater treatment plants locations of the partner Municipalities (Mbombela LM, Nkomazi LM, and Emakhazeni LM), emphasising the partnership’s concerted efforts. A key recommendation proposed and adopted by the Blue Deal Crocodile River Partnership is to establish ring-fencing of municipal budgets for the respective wastewater treatment plants, and most especially as regards operation and maintenance.
Who is your buddy?
Internationally, the collaboration includes a peer learning buddy-approach for exchanging wastewater treatment expertise and experiences between Dutch and South African wastewater treatment plants’ superintendents. The partnership’s “buddying” is embarking on a structured programme of collective peer learning, fostering a dynamic environment of reciprocal exchange both amongst South African Blue Deal municipalities, and also internationally with the Dutch Water Authorities.
Unwavering commitment is crucial
In conclusion, all parties have agreed that whilst early indications are that progress is promising, unwavering commitment is crucial. The Blue Deal Crocodile River Partnership Oversight Committee will serve as a sentinel, providing an accounting platform for annual feedback and progress reporting to signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding.