Four UKZN students attended the launch of the Women in Water Empowerment Programme hosted by the National Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni.
They were the President of the KwaZulu-Natal Youth in Water and Sanitation organisation, Ms Thobeka Hlophe, Ms Thembeka Zungu, Ms Sisanda Cele and Ms Vunyiwe Makha.
The four received invitations to the event after they accompanied the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, to schools in rural areas to see how learners, especially young girls, coped with unhygienic conditions which had been identified.
Following the visit, the Youth in Water and Sanitation organisation was formed with the aim of, among other things, teaching young girls about sanitation, and to encourage them to pursue careers in water management, treatment, conservation and distribution.
The organisation is currently establishing a vision and strategies to take action towards effective water management to reduce all unnecessary water wastage and to ensure adequate water for everyone.
The organisation’s leadership was also invited to the Women in Water Empowerment Programme to learn more about the opportunities created for young women and in turn the opportunities for young women to participate and become service providers in the provision of water and sanitation.
The aim of the programme is to introduce entities owned by women into the water and sanitation industry as consultants, contractors, suppliers and innovators. It is also aimed at women in the water sector to ensure they can take advantage of huge economic benefits that accrue from water and sanitation infrastructure development and maintenance.
The Minister called for the inclusion of women and youth in programmes to ensure sustainable access to clean and quality water for all South Africans amid drought challenges.
Mokonyane thanked the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government for their best practices interventions to alleviate the negative impact or possible disasters caused by climate change.
The UKZN delegation met activist Ms Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, who - in tandem with Mokonyane - urged the Youth in Water and Sanitation organisation to continue its good work and committed Government to assist when required.
The UKZN delegation also met the Water Research Commissioner, Dr Mandla Msibi, who offered assistance and guidance with water and sanitation research.