Minister Lindiwe Sisulu participated in the virtual 2020 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) special event last week, which saw the official launch of the SDG 6 global acceleration framework.The forum was themed: “Showcasing of stakeholder commitments on accelerating progress on SDG 6”- Strengthen country planning, implementation and knowledge sharing for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 6) while supporting country response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sisulu joined several other ministers from across the globe in a forum co-chaired by Gilbert F. Houngbo, Chairperson of the UN-Water and Liu Zhenmin, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. During the online engagement, Sisulu outlined South Africa’s country planning, implementation and knowledge sharing for SDG 6 while supporting country response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She expressed that when the SDGs were developed, the world did not foresee a crises of the magnitude presented by COVID-19. “The pandemic reinvented the way the world perceived water, and imposed an urgent and unwitting agenda, as a global means to respond to its devastating impact,” Minister Sisulu said. She further highlighted the strides South Africa has made in achieving the SDGs.
“Like many countries, South Africa has made great strides since 1994 when only 50.4% of all households had access to an acceptable form of sanitation service and 55.1% had a reliable water supply service, to 2019 when sanitation services increased to 79% of households and 88% in term of water supply,” said Minister Sisulu.She maintained that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, her Ministry established a water specific, National Command Centre based at Rand Water Board, one of the entities reporting to the Ministry. The Command Centre is where all water supply initiatives across the country are coordinated to ensure that basic service of supplying water are achieved. Minister Sisulu said that, to date, over 740 million litres of water have been transported to fill water tanks distributed across the country, at an average of 10.31 Million Litres per day. She added that an additional R1.4 billion was set aside for sustainable water services. The funds are meant to address the backlog mainly created by the unforeseen growth in population and the unintended consequence of economic growth which saw a parallel increase in urbanisation. Minister Sisulu reiterated the commitment by the South African government to enhance the delivery of water and sanitation to its citizens.