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President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is in the process of urgently establishing an inter-governmental rapid response technical team to help address the country’s water related challenges.

Speaking at the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA 2019) in Cape Town on Thursday, the president confirmed government’s plans to establish a comprehensive national plan that addresses water shortages, ageing infrastructure and poor project implementation.

“We are urgently establishing an inter-governmental rapid response technical team, reinforced by specialist professionals, to intervene in areas which are experiencing severe water problems,” he said

“In one of these areas, Giyani, extensive work is underway to get water to the residents, in the immediate term through the repair of boreholes, and then through the rapid provision of proper infrastructure” he continued.

Eradicating unsafe sanitation in schools

Turning to sanitation Rampahosa noted that the safety of learners in schools was still high on the government’s agenda.

Last year government conducted an audit of toiles in schools and found that nearly 4 000 schools still have inappropriate sanitation facilities.

“Given the scale and urgency of the problem, we launched the SAFE Initiative in August last year, through which we mobilised all available resources, including pledges from business, strategic partners, and the building industry to replace all unsafe toilets in public schools,” he said.

According to Ramaphosa since the launch of the initiative, 699 schools have received safe, appropriate sanitation facilities and government has projects in a further 1 150 schools either in planning, design or construction stages.

“We are determined to eradicate unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities within the next three years,” the President said.

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