Mainstream water and sanitation issues in research and capacity building

THE Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka, yesterday officially opened the 22nd WaterNet Symposium, hosted by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), in Victoria Falls.

The WaterNet Symposium is running from 20 to 22 October 2021 under the theme “Integrated Water Resources Management for Sustainable Development in Eastern and Southern Africa”.

Below is the full speech by Dr Masuka.

I am delighted to join you at this august 22nd WaterNet Symposium. I especially welcome our foreign delegates to the beautiful and magnificent Victoria Falls. I hope you will enjoy our Zimbabwean hospitality.

This WaterNet Symposium, is running under the theme “Integrated Water Resources Management for Sustainable Development in Eastern and Southern Africa”. The symposium is being held at an opportune time. The Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, through my Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, is seized with harnessing water resources for social and economic development as a driving factor for Zimbabwe to attain an Empowered and Upper Middle Income Society, as eloquently espoused by our President, His Excellency Dr E.D. Mnangagwa, by 2030.

Distinguished Guests, ladies and Gentlemen!

At this juncture let me acknowledge the sterling efforts of the organising team, and at the same time take the opportunity to applaud and congratulate the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and its partners for taking the lead to organise and host this critical Symposium.

Enhancing access to safe water supply and sanitation services, as well as basic hygienic practices are key foundational issues for achieving our country’s Vision and are critical for attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including good health and gender equality. In particular, SDG 6 calls for clean water and sanitation for all. By managing our water sustainably, we are also able to better manage our production of food and energy and contribute to decent work and economic growth.

The water supply and sanitation coverage in many developing countries is still lagging, especially in rural areas. Urgent additional resources and assistance are required for the sector from stakeholders, including development partners. The Zimbabwe government, on its part, envisages drilling some 35 000 boreholes in each of the country’s 35 000 villages by 2024, drilling some 9 600 boreholes at each of our 9600 schools, and a further 3 600 boreholes, two each in each of our 18 000 wards for youth horticulture projects. Additionally, of the 44 950 boreholes in the country only 25 000 are fully functional. So maintenance must be a key community involvement issue. My Ministry also superintends over 530 water points through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, supplying 33 million cubic metres treated water annually, and 1.3 billion cubic metres raw bulk water annually.

Zimbabwe is endowed with some 10 700 dams having been built, but only a handful are being fully utilised. This presents an opportunity to deploy new technologies. The government of the Republic of Zimbabwe has now adopted a new philosophy for these projects as it seeks to accelerate irrigation development from the current 216 000 ha to over 420 000 ha by 2024.

Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen!

This symposium creates a platform for networking, for sharing ideas, sharing experiences, and for improving cooperation. I wish to point that, it is my expectation that you will fully exploit and cooperate in the area of developing and deploying technologies that improve water use efficiency. Stakeholder experiences are envisaged to boost our efforts to improve the economy through interventions in the construction and exploitation of the storage, collection, transmission and distribution systems of potable water, and sewage disposal, treatment systems and cleaner energy production. Also, of great importance is the scientific research in the field of water quality and its monitoring, identification of water resources, technologies for water and sewage systems; and the experience in irrigation technologies to improve the efficiency of agricultural production.

It is therefore important to mainstream water and sanitation issues in research and capacity building. I am pleased to know that we have water experts from the rest of Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States of America participating in this conference either physically or virtually. Because of this diversity, I wish to see partnerships, collaborations and synergies coming out of this symposium which would give birth to new technologies and approaches of solving our water challenges.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to welcome all delegates that are physically here in Zimbabwe and thank you for joining us in this Symposium.

It is now my singular honour and privilege to declare this symposium officially open. I wish you fruitful deliberations.

I thank you.

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