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The governments of South Africa and the Netherlands have undertaken to explore more cooperation opportunities in the water and sanitation sector in order to strengthen the existing relations between the two States.

The two countries made the undertaking when Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu joined by Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, met with the Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Africa, Joanne Doornewaard, in Pretoria this week.

Mchunu and Doornewaard held their first meeting since the Ambassador was posted to South Africa in August 2023.

A number of issues were discussed at the meeting, including the bilateral agreement on water management between the two countries, as well as other collaboration opportunities in the water and sanitation sector.

Expanding on the existing relations between the two States, Mchunu acknowledged the expertise and contribution offered by the Netherlands in the water and sanitation space, saying that it has a significant impact.

Mchunu said the visit by His Majesty the King of Netherlands, Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima in South Africa in October last year, as part of the Blue Deal Project, demonstrated the love they have for the people of South Africa.

The Minister outlined some challenges that the country continues to face, including delipidating infrastructure at municipal level, resulting in water losses.

“South Africa remains one of the driest countries in the world, yet we have a high rate of non-venue water at municipal level, losing so much water that we so need. We need lots of work around this matter [through] investing more in our water infrastructure to ensure that we nip this in a bud,” Mchunu said.

He said that South Africa has more challenges in water services than it has with water resources.

Mchunu, however, maintained there is no water crisis in the country but is experiencing “isolated incidents that do not equate to a crisis”.

Phillips said the department and the sector at large are reaping the benefits of some programmes undertaken by the Netherlands government under the Blue Deal Project, particularly in the supply chain management in infrastructure procurement.

“We have had an internationally renowned expert in infrastructure procurement, who has imparted so much knowledge that we are currently implementing to modernise our systems. This is going to make a huge improvement in our service delivery, and we want to take this to our water boards and municipalities to implement as well,” Phillips said.

Doornewaard outlined several projects that they want to undertake in Limpopo and other parts of the country, as part of support to the country’s water challenges and other sectors.

“We just want to lend a helping hand to the country,” Doornewaard said.

South Africa and the Netherlands signed the Blue Deal agreement, which aims to support water management by exchanging knowledge and experience. –

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