24 March 2021
On 22 March, in celebration of World Water Day, Norio Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to South Africa handed over the multi-million rand Roodeplaat Training Centre to Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. The Centre aims to train artisans to deal with water losses in communities.
Maruyama said that at this year’s SONA, President Ramaphosa called for economic recovery and economic reform and that higher rates of growth and employment will not be achieved without implementing structural economic reform. The objective of the Japanese assistance in the sector of water supply, said Maruyama, is to give support for the skills development of officials of local municipalities, who are facing challenges from non-revenue water.
"The area of non-revenue water is one of the major challenges which "Operation Vulindlela", which drives the economic reform of South Africa, is focusing on. This Japanese assistance will help municipalities to improve their performance in water services, addressing the challenges for the economic reform at deep roots level,” said Maruyama.
The construction of the Roodeplaat Training Centre was funded by the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Mr Tomohiro Seki, Chief Representative of JICA in South Africa said at the handover ceremony that the relationship between South Africa and Japan, which exceeds a century, grows closer and more productive with each passing year. “JICA has been in South Africa for just over 20 years now, and we take pride in being a partner in development for the South African government. The strong ties between our two countries are a compelling reason to keep building bridges. It is in my view essential to forge and deepen our ties as we continue on this positive trajectory towards our shared vision for development. Over the years, we have learned that technical assistance is most valued when those who offer it work closely with those who seek it. JICA is privileged to have had the opportunity to work with DWS and SALGA to illustrate the power of collaborative partnerships in bringing about much needed change.
“This is the first technical cooperation project with the Government of South Africa in the water supply sector. Under the National Development Plan 2030, key areas such as capacity development and human resources development of municipalities were identified as national priority issues. The project aims to transfer non-revenue water countermeasure technology, a strength of Japan, and provide practical sustainable training at the IBTC that will meet the actual needs of the workplace. This training center will be positioned as a training provider of skills development of municipal staff and will serve as a hub of coordination and information sharing of human resources development in the water sector," Seki said.
Continuing on the path of building bridges, Seki outlined future cooperation projects with South Africa in the water sector.
Minister Sisulu took ownership of the Taining Yard and said that water was under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands of agriculture and industry and the worsening impacts of climate change. “The Department and SALGA are faced with a similar challenge regarding the state of Non-Revenue water in South Africa. The Municipalities do not have the capacity and opportunity to train their officials on Non-Revenue water and the country does not have a specific functional facility available to offer training on Non-Revenue water. It is clear that the Japanese model of non-revenue water management is the easiest in that it focusses mainly on the practical side of dealing with non-revenue water than theory. We’ll continue to work with SALGA, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, SETAs and the Metros in ensuring that this project delivers on its intended objectives.”
Also present at the handover were Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo, President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Polokwane Local Municipality Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng, and the MMC for Infrastructure in Tshwane, Councillor Phillip Nel.