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Hlengiwe Cele  
The Water Sector Capacity Building Programme - FETWater

The WRC is the proud host of Phase III  FETWater capacity building programme, since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Water and Sanitation early in  2014.  The programme is supported by the Government of South Africa, as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) through the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Funds (FUST), and is set to run until September 2018.

A capacity building initiative called FETWater was launched in 2002 as a direct response to a 1998 study by the then Department of Water Affairs, UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), which revealed a marked lack of human resources and competencies in the local water sector. The capacity deficiency not only jeopardised the implementation of the National Water Act, but also hampered the country’s ability to conform with, and take advantage of, global trends in integrated water resources management.

FETWater was initially aimed at developing and transferring knowledge so that a critical mass of water scientists could be created to facilitate the process of implementation of the Act. The creation of knowledge was conducted via small training networks, composed of the leading individuals and institutions in the country in each thematic area.

During Phase I six networks were established, focusing on themes such as resource directed measures, groundwater, the beneficial use of water, and expertise development in catchment management. While the networks provided the financial and structural support, they also identified particular needs in their fields of expertise and developed specialised content for training courses that build the capacities of students, practitioners, water management professionals and industry stakeholders.

Phase II saw 1 052 professionals in the South African water sector receiving training through the FETWater programme.

According to  John Zvimba, Programme Manager for FETWater, Phase III will see the advancement of technologies in the water space, including those relating to climate change and variability, strengthening of water regulator tools, local government capacity building using water as a catalyst for economic growth and development, and developing stronger intergovernmental relations, specialised skills and knowledge to manage water while taking into account the whole value chain and importantly the indivisibility of the hydrological cycle.

While signing the MoU, the WRC CEO Dhesigen Naidoo said, “The expectation is very high around the 3rd phase of FETWater as it fits in well with where we are as a country. The water sector actually performs extraordinarily very well. We are currently ranked 18th in the world with regards to knowledge production”.

The FETWater Phase III programme links directly to the Department of Water and Sanitation's newly launched NWRS2.

Contact :   FETWater Programme Manager, John Zvimba johnz@wrc.org.za

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