South Africa: Water Scarcity In Africa Should Get More Airtime On Government And Business Agendas

Last Updated: 8 April 2014
Article by   KPMG

Despite the World Bank reporting that the African continent only uses 2 percent of its water resources, compared to the global average of 5 percent, it remains a fact that water is a scarce resource on most of the continent. Inaccessibility to water in Africa, as well as insufficient models for sustainable management, will present ever-increasing challenges in the future if not addressed.

By 2030, it's said that half of the world's population will live in a water-stressed environment. As economies continue to develop, the trend towards urban dwelling will rise, with people choosing to locate to more built-up centres in search of better life opportunities and employment. Where water is already a scarce resource, as it is in large parts of Africa, rapid urbanisation will necessitate a close look at accessibility, delivery and the infrastructure required to meet growing urban population needs.

"Water is a natural resource to which all African citizens have a right. This must be balanced with the environment's right to water to ensure a sustainable future," says Carl Haycock, COO for WSP's Environment & Energy services in South Africa. "The challenges here centre on balancing supply and demand for both primary and secondary water users, where primary users are people and the environment and secondary users are industry, agriculture and business.

Haycock continues: "In Africa, we already recognise the impact that climate change is having on precipitation patterns and weather events – such as flooding and lower dry-season water flows in rivers. As water is of fundamental importance for continued economic development on the continent, sustainable water practices must provide solutions for maintaining both the quantity and quality of available water within the context of this delicate balance. Water availability can be a constraint to socio-economic development if this balance is not achieved. It doesn't necessarily stop development, but does lead to challenges in sustainable delivery and conservation."

De Buys Scott, KPMG head of infrastructure advisory and global Infrastructure major projects, agrees and adds: "Urbanisation results in an increase in the demand for water in line with the movement of people into more densely populated areas. This also puts additional pressure on water infrastructure. As countries continue on this wave of urbanisation, the conservation of available water resources needs to receive critical attention."

Because most of the continent already faces challenges around water scarcity, it is critical that country leaders take stock of their existing urban infrastructure and reconsider current or future projects and/or plans on the basis of allowing for more access to these increased necessities. In addition, once these are implemented, access to water should be monitored for sustainable use. Business needs to support these efforts, being cognisant of the issues at play in any given system and employing best practice where this is within its power to do.

While there are still untapped water resources in Africa, access is insufficient and there is also a significant amount of wastage in numerous communities. "Governments need to relook their approach to resource management and implement systems and infrastructure to allow access for communities where they are able to practice a basic human right" says Mandla Mlangeni, CEO of MMQS. 

In South Africa, for instance, Government recently claimed that 91% of households have access to piped water. Contradicting this, the SA Human Rights Commission released its water and sanitation report last week, which stated that more than 25% of South Africans do not have access to water in their homes.

The report by the SA Human Rights Commission also highlighted that where most water is used at a relatively low cost by the private sector and business sectors, many informal communities in urban and rural areas are unable to afford access to water facilities. Continues Mlangeni: "As such, there's a need for South African businesses and more importantly Government to assess their vulnerability to water-related risk and to introduce strategies that will enable them to adapt for a sustainable future and economy.  On the other hand, businesses are being approached to provide water to the communities in which they operate and many are already doing this, most notably in the mining, agriculture and energy sectors".

Scott of KPMG continues: "Currently, 36.8 percent of water supply is classified as Non-Revenue Water, where 25.4 percent of this non-revenue water is due to physical leakage. While it is possible to reduce the quantify of non-revenue water – and in fact, this should be a high priority for the Department of Water Affairs and like Departments and agencies - there are certainly great challenges ahead, including developing effective systems to monitor water usage at municipal level, which will also enable more accurate billing systems and metering. But perhaps, more importantly, there is a need to address maintenance of existing water infrastructure in a more comprehensive and integrated manner that will reduce physical water losses and potentially extend the useful life of such assets to communities."

Mlangeni agrees: "We have noticed project cases where Government does not effectively utilise cost managers as independent consultants for their water projects. What they fail to realise is that these challenges can be combated by partnering with consultants who are able to provide forecasts analysis of the surface areas and risk mitigation to prevent over spend and excess usage of water. This leaves room for inadequate utilisation of resources, and lack of transparency and accountability, if systems implemented are not sustainable and effective. In terms of this, there are many lessons to be learnt from how the private sector conducts its projects to manage water accessibility. For instance there are a number of successful projects undertaken by the Mining sector, where they have managed accessibility in-and-around mines."

Haycock adds: "The balance between meeting the needs of primary and secondary water users – people, the environment and then commercial activity – is a delicate one to strike. However, sustainable development in Africa is dependent on it."

Water conservation and sustainable management should be a critical concern for all sectors, Government, business and individuals. If Government and business alike don't work hand-in-hand to ensure sustainable management and access to water resources, water could be the next item the leading economies will clash over, not over resources, famine or weapons but water scarcity.

"To prevent this, communities and business need to respect and conserve water and ensure our sustainable future. As business we need to play our part in addressing conservation and implement systems to manage our projects utilisation thereof," concludes Scott of KPMG.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions