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Water Resilient Cities Program 

The city-to-city Strategic Sector Cooperation Program between the cities of Tshwane and Aarhus enters it’s second phase.

The Strategic Sector Cooperation continues to grow: In 2017, the Danish Embassy in South Africa added a Smart and Sustainable Cities cooperation to the portfolio. In 2021/2022, the program enters its second phase, albeit with a narrower programmatic focus on Water Resilient Cities. The programme is a city-to-city framework, in which the two cities of Tshwane (South Africa) and Aarhus (Denmark) cooperate in the formulation, design, and implementation of a series of initiatives targeted at improving the service delivery of Tshwane’s water sector.

The decision to narrow the programmatic focus on water related issues and solutions was made based on the experiences from phase 1; where it have become clear that South Africa, and the City of Tshwane faces many water related challenges. These include, but are not limited to: 1) Issues of water loss (NRW) throughout the distribution system, 2) Inefficient and insufficient treatment of wastewater, 3) Reoccurring human and capital damages from storm water and flash floods, 4) Inefficient water usage in industries, 5) Water pollution from industries, and 6) Overconsumption of groundwater resources. Bluntly, put; significant improvements are needed to meet such water related challenges and the service delivery demand of South African cities.

The City of Aarhus, who is the formal project owner and key stakeholder in the program, will facilitate the transfer of relevant Danish know-how, experience, and technology tailored to the local demands of the City of Tshwane in an effort to build capacity throughout the City of Tshwane’s water infrastructure. The programmatic focus on urban water resilience is concretized in three thematic tracks of: Non-Revenue Water, Waste Water Treatment, and Storm Water Management.

Within the theme of Non-Revenue Water, the cities have agreed to collaborate on various methods and strategies to reduce Non-Revenue Water in City of Tshwane. It is estimated that the City of Tshwane’s current water loss is estimated to be between 30 and 40 %. Denmark’s is between 5-7%. The non-revenue water track includes, but is not limited to, the development on a NRW strategy that will enable City of Tshwane to reduce its Non-Revenue-Water, save money and potentially enable reinvestment of savings into the city’s water infrastructure. The main objective is to help improve the City of Tshwane’s service delivery significantly by minimizing water loss and increasing the revenue, so that the already drought-inflicted situation is mitigated and potentially improved. Water is a scarce commodity, influencing the prospects of individuals in all levels of society. Minimizing water loss and having access to water is therefore deemed as key and necessary for the improvement of livelihoods and development of business in South Africa..

The two thematic tracks of Waste Water Treatment and Storm Water Management are currently under development. The two cities have agreed to collaborate on these two themes; however, the specific objectives of the two tracks are yet to be decided upon. This is a process in an of itself, as the Danish embassy, and the City of Aarhus, wants to make sure that the objectives and deliverables of the Danish side matches the needs and demands of the South African context. For us, it is crucial that we listen to our partners before we bring anything to the table.


The program will involve stakeholders from a variety of sectors including public, private, academia, civil society and financing - all within sustainable urban water management. The stakeholders will be involved in designing, formulating and implementing the programme and are key in order to gain a holistic view and have the necessary tools to understand the challenges, initiatives and current plans throughout the City of Tshwane’s water infrastructure.





City of Aarhus

Local Government


City of Tshwane

Local Government


Embassy of Denmark in South Africa (Pretoria)


Facilitation of project

Other SSC project at the Danish embassy in South Africa


Advising project in terms of mutual learning, engagement, and integration

Aarhus Vand

Water utility from Denmark

Key stakeholder

RAND Water

Water utility from South Africa

Key stakeholder

Department of Water and Sanitation

National Government Department responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies governing the water sector

Key stakeholder

Department of Public Works

National Government Department (land owner)

Key stakeholder


Public Entity that delivers rail service in metropolitan areas of South Africa (land owner)

Key stakeholder


Statistics South Africa is the national statistical service of South Africa

Key stakeholder

Water Valley Denmark

Cluster alliance between Danish water companies

Key private stakeholder


C40 is a group of 97 global cities focused on fighting climate change

Key international stakeholder

State of Green

Not-for-profit, PPP from Denmark focused on the green transition

Key stakeholder