The role of women in water resource management is changing, as is the focus of their interaction within the water industry, according to Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi.

“We brought rural women on board to prove that water resource management is not for engineers and scientists only. People with indigenous knowledge have a key role to play, hence the conceptualisation and implementation of the Adopt a River Project,” said Mabudafhasi in her address during the Department of Water Affairs Budget Vote on 21 May 2013.

During the 2012/2013 financial year, through this specific project, 24 rivers were cleaned and 1 148 jobs opportunities created for local women. 44 of these women have also been awarded bursaries to study further at Universities and FET colleges to, as the Deputy Minister says, tell a story that begins “I was a river cleaner and now I am a scientist.”

Sector wide impact

The impact has not only been through the Adopt a River Programme. Through the Women in Plumbing Project 181 women from various municipalities in the Western Cape have received training in the plumbing trade. “They will be part of the War on Leaks teams in their respective municipalities,” said Mabudafhasi.

Additionally, a further 214 women from the 9 provinces have been trained as process controllers at water and wastewater treatment works.

“During Women’s Month we will host the Women Mayors’ Dialogue to encourage them to champion water conservation, environment, women and youth projects in their respective municipalities,” said Mabudafhasi.