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Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has signed a landmark water cooperation agreement with Italy.
The memorandum of understanding, which was signed on Tuesday, saw both countries committing themselves to developing initiatives aimed at mitigating climate change by providing sustainable and integrated water resources.
Part of the agreement is that both South Africa and Italy will ensure education, training and research in the fields of water quality enhancement, water resource management, water service management and rural sanitation technology.
The agreement will also ensure that both countries work on joint projects that will enhance capacity building, technology transfer and technical assistance.
These projects will mainly focus on empowering previously disadvantaged groups in the society such as women, youth and people with disabilities.
During the signing ceremony in Johannesburg, Minister Mokonyane said the agreement will ensure that both countries share knowledge expertise to fight climate change.
She said South Africa’s partnership with the Italians is aimed at assisting the country to strengthen its waste water treatment capacity as well as rural and urban onsite and offsite sanitation systems.
« We have also agreed to cooperate in integrated water management solutions, including the reuse of waste water for material and energy recovery. Given our current water challenges as a result of drought, water management is a critical resource and tool required by our government, » said Minister Mokonyane.
She said the main objective of the South African government is to ensure that poverty is eradicated, inequalities are reduced and that employment opportunities are created.
« We have made it our goal to ensure that we transform the water sector by making it inclusive of women and youth, those who were previously excluded. It is both countries’ responsibility to ensure that this agreement is implemented effectively to the benefit of communities.
« Our other area of focus as the country is food security and we hope that by coming into this agreement with Italy, the set objectives will be realised, » the Minister said.
Italy’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Land and Sea, Barbara Degani, who led the Italian delegation, said she is glad to have signed the agreement with South Africa. She thanked Minister Mokonyane for all her efforts in making sure that the two countries work together.
« Working together will be a great opportunity for transferring expertise to fight climate change. The idea is to implement this agreement to the benefit of the people of both countries, especially women and the youth, » said Degani.
A Joint Steering Committee will be established to ensure the commitments made in the agreement are carried out. The committee will comprise three representatives from the Department of Water and Sanitation and Italian Republic Department of Environment, Land and Sea.
The agreement follows a visit to Italy in September last year, where the departmental delegation, led by Minister Mokonyane and her deputy Pamela Tshwete, met with various stakeholders in the water sector.
Subsequently, Minister Mokonyane hosted an Italian delegation in April this year.
This was followed by the Italian delegation visit to KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West, where implementable joint projects were identified.
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