Skip to content

Strategic Water Sector Program

The Danish Minister of Environment and Food and the South African Minister of Water and Sanitation signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of water - water use and water resources in November 2015.

The cooperation is headed jointly by Danish and South African ministries, but further includes stakeholders from local government, water utilities, research institutions, industry organizations and private sector.

The purpose of the program is to support the South African government agencies and other relevant stakeholders in developing and implementing strategy, management and regulatory frameworks to contribute to the National Water Resource Strategy (2013), namely that “water is efficiently and effectively managed for equitable and sustainable growth and development.

The program is divided into three thematic areas and two crosscutting components. Each of the themes contains a strategy/policy component and an operational demonstration component.

Thematic Area 1: Urban Water Management

South Africa has a huge potential to limit water waste, and more specifically non-revenue water (NRW), and thereby ensure revenue in municipalities for investments and maintenance in urban water infrastructure. The average non-revenue water in South Africa is currently at 35%, with some municipalities facing up to 70%, as opposed to 7% in Denmark.

In the area of urban water management, the program therefore aims to support efforts to address the non-revenue water challenge through providing support in the strategy and policy component of the no-drop programme, as Denmark has long-term and in-depth experience experiences with systematic water leakages and integrated solutions for non-revenue water.

The thematic area is divided into three main activities:

  • Evaluation of National non-revenue water benchmarking framework and proposals for operationalization
  • Development of a No Drop Guideline
  • Input to and testing of guidelines for applying No Drop benchmarking data and reports as recurrent instrument to direct and design an intervention program

Thematic Area 2: Groundwater 

South Africa is currently looking to diversify its water resources and has a large potential in the groundwater sector, as this is an overlooked water resource. 99% of drinking water in Denmark comes from groundwater, and thus Danish practices, technologies and the developed legal framework are of the highest quality. 

The groundwater efforts focus on challenges in well-field and aquifer management at municipal level in South Africa. Many boreholes and well fields are not sufficiently well-managed and maintained, which contributes to both underutilization and underrating of the groundwater resource.

The thematic area is thus divided into two activities:

  • Integrating international learnings and best practices in the final drafting process of the new National Groundwater Strategy and into future enforcement
  • Inputs to a first draft of guidance documents on integrated well field and aquifer management in SA are provided.

Thematic Area 3: Water Efficiency in Industries

Improving water efficiency in South Africa is high on the water agenda, and by zooming in on the industries, there is a lot to be saved already. Main drivers are risks of water scarcity and possible water rationing, abstraction and discharge permits requirements and risks of deteriorating water quality, competing water use, rising water prices and demand for demonstrating water stewardship.

Water efficiency in the food and beverage industries is a high priority in Denmark due to strict water prices and environmental regulation. The know-how and advanced technologies from Denmark can prove valuable to South Africa’s efforts to promote water efficiency in industries.

The component is divided into sub-activities:

  • Reviewing strategy, policy and regulatory framework for water efficiency in industry, providing recommendations for needed improvements and advancing appropriate new strategies and policies
  • Promoting, testing and disseminating approaches for analyzing and implementing water efficiency interventions in the food and beverage industry and enhancing awareness and analytical skills on water efficiency in industry

Crosscutting component 1: Water sector research and innovation

The crosscutting component on research and innovation aims to enable strategic cooperation on sector and institutional level between the Danish and South African research sectors guided by the framework of the South African Water Research, Development and Innovation Road Map (SA RDI). The research sector has expressed interest in engaging on modalities for getting research results closer to the market. Main activities are joint research capacity mapping, match making events, joint research funding mapping and facilitation of joint research applications.

Crosscutting component 2: Water Sector Financing and business models

The water sector financing and business models component focuses on overcoming barriers to investment and financing of water sector projects. Challenges to the bankability of water infrastructure projects need to be identified, including lack of ring fencing of revenue from water tariffs for reinvestments in water. The component aims to tap into current initiatives and facilitate the mobilization of Danish financing facilities IFU and EKF in the South African water sector.

Our latest water sector newsletter

Water Quarterly - August 2021