South Africa - Danish Strategic Water Sector Cooperation (Phase 2)

The main objective of the strategic sector cooperation between South Africa and Denmark is to improve the framework conditions of the South African water sector. This includes improving the investor attractiveness of the water sector and facilitate national industrialization in the water sector. In particular, with the aim of supporting the developments towards the realization of the SDGs relevant to the water sector in South Africa.

The second phase of our cooperation will focus on areas where our South African have a strong South African interest and a clear Danish stronghold, notably within groundwater, water in cities, and water efficiency in industries. We want to encourage a broad range of cooperation from research and to development to creation of local jobs and business opportunities.

The Strategic Sector Cooperation - what is it?

The Strategic Sector Cooperation is based in the DEPA Office for Water Supply, but draws on expertise from a number of other DEPA office, including Ground Water Mapping and Enterprises. The Danish Agency for Higher Education and Research are also a partner together with a number of Danish universities. We also draw on a number of Danish utilities to provide the hands-on expertise needed to ensure that we can contribute with the widest possible range of Danish water expertise.

The main partner on the South African side is Department of Water & Sanitation, as well as a number of municipalities and local utilities involved in specific activities.

South Africa faces a growing challenge with ensuring solutions for both environmental, social and economic challenges in a sustainable and holistic manner. One of the main challenges will be to ensure a more even access to safe drinking water for a growing population. Following the growth in distribution of drinking water, there will also be a growing demand for sustainable handling of the increased wastewater volume. Overall, the responsible management of the scarce water resources will be key to ensure the economic development that can help lift marginalized groups out of poverty.

Statistically South Africa is the 30th driest country and with less than 10% of the annual rainfall can be utilized for drinking water. Only 15% of the water supply is based on groundwater. Today the average water consumption is 230 liter/day (against 107 liter/day in Denmark) so water efficiency will have to improve dramatically if the country shall succeed in ensuring both equal access to safe drinking water and further economic development.

Based on the successful results from Phase 1 it has been agreed that Phase 2 will focus on facilitation of water solution where Danish expertise and equipment could be relevant to ensuring sustainable solutions to the water challenges facing South Africa. Phase 2 will focus on:

• Improved Ground Water Utilization
• Increased Industrial Water Efficiency
• Improvement of national regulatory frameworks and the implementation capacity at municipal (WSA/WSP) level for urban water management.
• Late-stage Innovation
• Advisory support to WSP and industry water – energy nexus infrastructure investment planning, project design, contracting modalities, financing and procurement

During Phase 1 Cape Town in 2018 became world famous for facing ”Day Zero” water shortage. With short notice, it was possible to deploy a Danish groundwater expert to help the city authorities getting an overview of the possibilities for increasing groundwater supplies to avoid the water catastrophe. Luckily, “Day Zero” was avoided and the good story is now that Cape Town have managed to increase groundwater utilization, and to retain water consumption at a lower level even if the restriction have been lifted. The story shows that it is possible to change oldtime water habits concerning water supply and water consumption even in a large city as Cape Town. This lesson will be valuable for many other cities around the world.

Groundwater governance collaboration across borders
In South Africa, even large metropoles like Cape Town have challenges supplying sufficient water. To secure reliable water supply for the future local Saldanha Bay municipality, north of Cape Town, have taken several strides towards incorporating groundwater into their water supply mix. The search for and use of groundwater resources has often been hindered by the fact that groundwater, in most of South Africa, is stored within fractures in the bedrock, difficult to map and reach. As a result, demonstration projects have been initiated, where Danish groundwater experts assist the South Africans in developing techniques and guidelines for mapping and abstracting the groundwater from the those factures in the bedrock.

In Saldanha Bay municipality, they are currently mixing surface water from the Berg River with groundwater from three wellfields - and have further plans for managed aquifer recharge and desalination. To sustainably manage groundwater resource in integration with existing water supply sources, whilst securing the safety of the Laangebaan/Saldanha Bay area ecosystem, the municipality are aware that knowledge is the necessary basis for all decisions. To obtain that knowledge and undertstanding, they have further mobilised groundwater experts, to survey and provide 3D mapping of an 2400km2 large area. Data is collected by airborne electromagnetic magnetic geophysical method, analysed and modelled by Danish groundwater experts, to aid the municipality in their decision making.




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Kim Madsbjerg