As Gauteng residents battled 40-hour water shortages last week, an Israeli delegation of water experts toured the country, sharing world-renowned Israeli water solutions with government officials in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng as well.

The delegation met with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), where the water experts engaged with Velenkosini Hlabisa, President of the IFP, as well as Member of Parliament Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. A number of IFP-led municipalities were also in attendance.

The IFP delegation noted that areas such as agriculture, food security, health, environmental protection and tourism were crucial to the development of KZN and that water management was key to these functioning optimally. They welcomed the opportunity to introduce Israeli technology to the province’s municipalities.

Their national tour also included a visit to the Western Cape last week, in meetings with the Western Cape MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, Anton Bredell, Gerhard Gerber from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, and with Graham Paulse, the Chief Director of Municipal Performance Monitoring and Support for the City of Cape Town.

A seminar was also held at Tshwane House, with the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Cllr Cilliers Brink. It focused on Israel’s world leading experience and technology in improving the supply, access, sanitation and sustainability of water. Cllr. Cilliers Brink shared that “the state of Israel has excelled in water management and water security…the seminar comes at a critical time as the City has recently experienced shortages due to Rand Water issues”.

The delegation included insights from 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).

“Israel, a country that is more than half desert, is a recognised world leader in water management and technology”, said Michael Kransdorff, chairman of the JNF SA, one of the organisations instrumental in facilitating the visit. “Israel, through good governance and innovation, has been able to achieve non revenue water loss rates of below 4 percent compared to over 30 percent for the major metros in South Africa. Moreover it recycles over 90% of it wastewater. This combined with its desalination technology has allowed it to produces 20% more water than it needs”, he added.

“Israel is willing to share this technology and knowhow with South Africa. In fact Israeli technology and innovation has already provided over half a million South Africans with access to clean water”, affirmed Yechezkel Lifshitz (Director-General and Chairman of the Board of the Governmental Authority for Water & Sewage in Israel).

This tour aimed to advise government officials and the private sector on various aspects of Israeli water technology, innovation and management in regions that experience challenges with their water infrastructure, agriculture and waste water treatment.

The delegation also availed themselves for lectures at universities, including one at the University of Witwatersrand earlier this week.

“South Africans suffer when our national government refuses to treat Israel and the Palestinian Authority as separate and distinct entities. By focusing its foreign policy only on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the national government prevents life-changing Israeli water solutions from reaching poor and deprived areas around our country. Today, we are fortunate to see Israeli water experts engage with opposition parties that care for the South Africans they represent, and their democratic right to clean, safe drinking water” concludes Rowan Polovin, National Chairman of the SAZF.

The United Arab Emirates, India, China and many other countries have adopted a more pragmatic de-hyphenated approach between Israel and Palestinians, which allows them to have separate relations with both, so that their citizens might benefit from Israeli solutions in technology, agriculture, health, and water.

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and its partners, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF) hope to arrange more engagements of this nature in future, for the benefit of all South Africans, in its mission to build support and love for the State of Israel in our country.