A five-year programme is currently being devised to address the backlogs in water and sanitation services and to ensure the targets of the Millennium Development Goals will be met.
Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks and the European Union (EU) ambassador to South Africa, Lodewijk Briet launched the Masibambane III programme at the National Water Summit on Monday.
The programme aims to contribute to sustainable development through improved service delivery.
The EU ambassador who is heading a delegation of the European Commission to South Africa, reiterated that he was committed to helping the department meet its challenges towards creating a better life for all.
"Last year we announced that our funding commitment will rise to more than R11 billion from the period 2007-2013," he said, adding: "We are proud to remain South Africa's largest development partner".
During the launch, Mr Briet said he would be committing a further R107 million to complete the third phase of the Masibambane programme which will run over a period of three years, focussing on Water for Growth and Development.
Despite the considerable and ongoing challenges, Mr Briet said the South African government has managed to set up institutions essential to democracy.
"The government has developed policies to improve the quality of life of the masses and have initiated countless programmes to aggressively address poverty," he said.
Mr Briet added that South Africa's water legislation, national water resources strategy and the strategic framework for water services are internationally acclaimed.
"With the comprehensive policy framework established, now is the time to intensify the implementation. We support President Thabo Mbeki's call for Business Unusual," he said, referring to the President remarks in his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.
Ms Hendricks praised the relationship between the European Commission and South Africa.
"We've traveled a long journey with the commission in our commitment towards water services sector in the country and the region.
"Launching this programme will go a long way in terms of cementing our friendship."
The minister reiterated that the country was not facing a water crisis.
Ms Hendricks said she had briefed Parliament about the need for a major new dam for Gauteng by 2019, which would be part of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme.
According to the minister, the country has good quality drinking water in most areas.
"We are confident that it is safe to drink our tap water, a luxury that many countries do not have," she said.
As part of water conservation, Ms Hendricks said that in order for growth and development to be sustainable, there is a need to make the most of the scarce resources and generate maximum benefit for all.
With regard to water as part of a broader vision of government, she said that her department is adopting a business unusual approach to ensure that they strengthen the role that water and sanitation play in growth and development, for the poor and marginalised. - BuaNews
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System