On Monday, 10 July 2023, the City of Tshwane held a seminar with Israeli water experts at Tshwane House to learn about Israel’s world leading experience and technology in improving the supply, access, sanitation and sustainability of water. Israel, a country that is more than half desert, is a recognised world leader in water management and technology that produces 20% more water than it needs, and recycles over 90% of its wastewater, and is willing to share its expertise with South Africa.
The seminar was opened by the Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Cilliers Brink and included the expert insights of Mr. Yechezkel Lifshitz (Director-General and Chairman of the Board of the Governmental Authority for Water & Sewage in Israel) and Dr. Yehonatan Bar-Yosef (Project Manager of Water Quality Management & Ecology at Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – the Jewish National Fund).
Mr. Lifshitz shared detailed information on how the Israeli water governance system was developed, and how South Africa could look to using a similar model, stating that “the Israeli model focuses on a professionalised water bureaucracy where strong cooperation is fostered across government departments, and amongst all stakeholders who share a seat at the table”.
Dr. Bar-Yosef discussed how the state of Israel has tackled the sustainable management of its water resources, as a nation that lives in arid, desert-like conditions. He argues that “climate change requires that we take a long term approach to water management, with the development of augmented water resources with the latest technological solutions in areas such leak detection, desalination and wastewater filtration”.
The Mayor of Tshwane welcomed the delegation saying “This is an opportunity to glean lessons from a country that has managed to overcome severe water scarcity is one not to be missed. These lessons would be of great assistance in framing the development of the City’s water security strategy as part of the implementation of its Climate Action Plan.”
In his address, Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky shared that “Israel is a world leader in water management. Finding ways to cooperate with Israel will help South Africa create a better future for the communities that suffer the implications of water scarcity. There are tremendous opportunities here.”
Michael Kransdorf, Chairman of the Jewish National Fund of South Africa observed that “the Israeli water delegation visit to South Africa reaffirms the need for South Africa to strengthen its ties to Israel, which remains a dedicated partner for development in our country and across the continent. To date, Israeli technology and innovation has provided over half a million South Africans with access to clean water”.
“South Africans suffer when the South African government refuses to treat Israel and the Palestinian Authority as separate and distinct entities, and this focus only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevents life-changing and often low cost Israeli water solutions to reach poor and deprived areas around South Africa. The United Arab Emirates, India, China and others have adopted a more pragmatic de-hyphenated approach between Israel and the Palestinians, which allows them to have separate relations with both and benefit from Israeli solutions in technology, agriculture, health, and water.” concludes Rowan Polovin, National Chairman of the SAZF.
In addition to the seminar, the delegation will be meeting with officials and municipalities in other regions of South Africa, including Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape, to advise on various aspects of water technology, innovation and management. These are regions that experience challenges with their water infrastructure, agriculture and waste water treatment.
The water delegation visit follows the donation of water filtration kits to communities in Hammanskraal last week by the SAZF and JNF SA, together with partnering organisations. JNF SA, through its Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi has for almost twenty years been promoting sustainable solutions for climate change in the City of Tshwane.
The delegation was made possible by a strategic partnership between the SAZF, Jewish National Fund of South Africa (JNF SA), the Israeli Embassy in South Africa, and it was supported by Keren Kayemet Le Israel (KKL- JNF).