Adin says municipal water loss in his country was under 10%.
Sherwin Bryce-Pease, SABC
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations says it’s a mistake for South Africa not to have closer cooperation with his government regarding water sustainability. Ambassador Danny Danon was speaking at an event to promote Israeli water solutions and innovation at the United Nations in New York as the world organisation observed World Water Day with the launch of the International Decade of Action on Water for Sustainable Development.
Danon describes Israel as a water superpower. Located in a semi arid to arid climate, the country has faced water shortages since it’s inception.
“In Israel we have a hands on experience and we are willing to share it with the world. We would love to do it in SA, in any other country to share our knowledge, our experience, we proved that we can do it. We can make the desert bloom and we are very proud of it and we are looking forward to share that technology with other countries.”
Israel recycles 90% of its wastewater while 85% of municipal waste water is re-used in agriculture. It is built 5 of the world’s largest desalination plants on the Mediterranean Sea providing 60% of the country’s drinking water. While technological innovation and education has played a key role in its water management.
“A basic ingredient is public education. From pre-school children are educated to save water because every drop counts. They talk about water use and savings, write about the life cycle of a drop of water as it goes through the water cycle and even thinks about it, calling the rain to come to irrigate our fields. This results in a water-saving society, managing domestic use wisely and respecting water as an ingredient of life,” said Chair of Israel’s Water Association, Ranaan Adin.
Adin also indicated that municipal water loss in his country was under 10% and decreasing.
“It all starts from governance. Israel water law gives ownership of the water to the people, all water belong to all people. The National Water Authority has been established to manage Israel’s water in the best professional way for Israel’s people. This effective centralized authority enables long-term holistic planning and creation of a 50-year master plan.”
As South Africa’s Western Cape suffers through its worst drought on record, political differences have strained cooperation between the two countries. Israel’s Ambassador Danon says this is wrong.
“I think it is a mistake, when it comes to humanitarian issues, water, agriculture, there should be no political concerns. We all want to support our kids, we want to see them growing. That’s why I think people in SA should bypass all the political concerns and cooperate with Israel for the benefit of the people in SA.”
South Africa remains a fierce critic of Israel’s government over what it calls the genuine absence of initiatives to secure a lasting peace and a viable two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Drought-stricken farmers in the Western Cape have had to abandon at least a quarter of their high-value vineyards and deciduous fruit orchards because of a lack of water for irrigation.
This has had a knock-on effect on rural employment, with the loss of about 30 000 seasonal farm worker jobs during the harvest season, UCT Professor Mark New has said.
New, the director of UCT’s African Climate and Development Initiative, was awarded the Piers Sellers Prize by the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds this week for his leading contribution to solution-based climate research.
In a lecture, “The Anatomy of a Water Crisis”, at Leeds University after receiving the award on Monday, New said the loss of this production would have a long-term impact on the agricultural sector, a major export industry in the region.
A video of the lecture was released on Wednesday.
“So, what we have is a 25% reduction in this industry, which will only be incrementally increased if and when farmers can afford to replace those orchards and vineyards. They can’t suddenly reinvest in 25% of the farm. They don’t have the money to do that,” New said.
Fruit and wine farmers usually replaced their orchards and vineyards in cycles, when the plants reached the end of their lifespans after 15 to 20 years.
But once national government had cut off the water supply to farmers, when they had reached the limit of their drought allocation in late February, many of the deciduous fruit and wine farmers stopped irrigating those orchards and vineyards which were due to be replaced in the next five to six years.
Many of these plants had died as a result.
“So it has had an enormous effect,” he said.
New spoke of a “perfect storm” of conditions that had led to Cape Town’s water crisis.
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