National Water Week: Department briefing

Water and Sanitation

01 March 2005
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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 March 2005
NATIONAL WATER WEEK: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National Water Week, March 2005: Integrated Communications Campaign
Strategic issues for Department arising from President’s State of the Nation Address
Implications of President’s State of the Nation Address for the Committee
State of the Nation Address (2005) and it's Implications for the Committee
The Role of Public Relations
Various related newspaper articles
Survey: :Limpopo Water Summit

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed by representatives from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) on the National Water Week (NWW) campaign and on the issues for the Department raised in the President’s State of the Nation Address to Parliament.

Members focused on the costs of the NWW campaign, whether the right audiences would be reached and whether it would enhance delivery to those communities that did not have basic water services.

MINUTES
Mr B Naidoo briefed the Committee on the National Water Week Campaign (see document). He emphasised that it was crucial that the issues surrounding water and the work of the DWAF be brought to the attention of the South African public. This would be done through an extensive campaign that would reach across a diverse South African audience. The campaign would be broken down into three phases – Awareness, Call to Action and finally Word of Mouth. The two target audiences would be the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’; those without clean running water and those who needed to limit water consumption. Radio messages in all 11 official languages would form the core of the advertising campaign. The campaign would also be conducted through the print media, exhibitions and displays, roving trailers, commuter services and television.

Mr J Sindane gave a brief outline of the vision of the State of the Nation Address and how the DWAF could contribute to that vision. He then discussed the need to strengthen confidence in local government, investment in economic infrastructure (with an emphasis for the Department on water resources infrastructure), the Department’s role in improving government’s capacity, in consolidating the African agenda and in an economy that benefits all.

Discussion
Mr D Maluleke (DA) said that there was a need to bring water issues e.g. leaking pipes to the attention of local authorities.

Members raised concerns about the cost of the campaign, and the low radio listener numbers in some areas and whether or not exhibitions at shopping centres would be reaching the right audience.

Mr Naidoo responded that the key objective of the campaign was to have regional programmes. A newsletter was being launched for local authorities. On the issue of funding the campaign, he said that various sponsors were being brought on board. Some of them would be Eskom, Rand Water, Umgeni Water and Unilever and that negotiations would be conducted with the SABC and print media for added value. He suggested that the problem with radio in some regions was that a large, sparsely populated area had to be covered. Another campaign was the WASH campaign that targeted communities in need of hygiene education. An exhibition could be organised in Parliament as well.

Ms M Manana (ANC) said that South Africa would be a semi-desert in twenty years. Other departments needed to be brought on board. She said that a leaking tap in the Justice Department had simply been left to run and was repaired only when she raised the issue.

Mr T Ramphele (ANC) wondered how and if the campaign would target farmworkers.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) suggested that Members of Parliament become involved in the launch of the campaign. This would give credibility to the campaign.

Mr Naidoo said that South Africa was one of the thirty driest countries in the world and the Department was therefore serious about the campaign. He said that the programme would work with schools. An art award had been launched for schools. Schools would take the message into the communities. He said that the Department of Health and the Department of Education were already on board. The concern with farm workers was access to water services. He said that the Department’s free basic water programme partly addressed this. He said that farmers would be targeted through trade magazines.

Mr Sindane suggested that mobile clinics could be utilised to target farm workers.

Members raised concerns about the message reaching pre-schools and directing the message of saving water at those who did not have running water.

Mr Naidoo said that the WASH campaign had been directed at pre-schools. Comics had also been distributed. Television programmes were also targeting children. He said that in communities without water the focus was not on water conservation but on hygiene.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked about poverty alleviation programmes and whether the Working for Water programme would be replaced.

Mrs D van der Walt (DA) asked about infrastructure development and where money for these projects would come from.

Mr Sindane responded that large projects like dams were planned well ahead of time. The Treasury had to be made aware of the infrastructure needs well in advance. The Working for Water Programme was still continuing.

Professor Goldberg suggested that the Committee concern itself with ways in which large infrastructure could be financed. There was a need for discussion on poverty alleviation and there needed to be more emphasis on Forestry rather than Water Affairs in this regard.

The Chairperson said that she would be away on an observer mission in Zimbabwe at the next meeting and someone should be appointed to the position for the duration of that period.

The meeting was adjourned.

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