In terms of Water Affairs and Forestry, Government must play a significant resource management role. This places Water Affairs and Forestry squarely within the ambit of the Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development that is proposed in UDM Economic and Public Works policies. As a resource, water specifically must play a key role in Planned Sustainable Development programmes aimed at creating safe and productive communities.
Despite current programmes to bring water to the people, the backlogs remain too large. The UDM is in favour of developing a water system that not only provides for current needs, but is also capable of coping with increased future consumption.
Therefore there is a need to increase the current water storage and dam capacity. Recognising that water is a scarce resource, it is unacceptable that vast quantities of water running through the rivers of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal ends up unused in the sea. Infrastructure development is required. Investment in water infrastructure will have several significant benefits. Firstly, it can serve as a catalyst to stimulate agriculture and hence rural revitalisation in some of the poorest areas of the country. Secondly, an investment in water infrastructure will lead to improved health for poor rural communities, who are currently without clean water and sanitation. Thirdly, an investment in water infrastructure will create jobs and therefore contribute to poverty alleviation.
A UDM Government will ensure close cooperation between the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Agriculture and Land, as well as Environmental Affairs and Tourism, under the auspices of the Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development (as proposed in UDM Economic Policy).
It is necessary to launch a national campaign to address the specific greening needs in both urban and rural areas.
2. Mission statement
To manage the water and forestry resources of South Africa in an equitable and responsible manner by finding a sustainable balance between development, service delivery and conservation.
In line with the Constitution, a UDM Government will aim to achieve the following objectives in terms of Water Affairs and Forestry:
3.1. The provision of water services to the people of South Africa, specifically in cooperation with Local Government.
3.2. Sustainable development and protection of South Africa’s water resources.
3.3. Sustainable development and protection of South Africa’s forestry resources.
4. UDM solutions
4.1. Provision of water services
Water is a scarce resource in South Africa, and furthermore its distribution for human consumption and productive activity was subject to inequality and discrimination under the previous regime. Within this context the equitable provision of water services will be the main objective of a UDM Government.
4.1.1. Household water supply
• Household water supply must become a reality for every South African family. This responsibility lies with Local Government, which must be actively assisted and funded by National Government to develop the capacity to discharge this duty effectively and efficiently.
• It is vital that Local Government is assisted to develop the institutional capacity to provide and manage water services.
• National Government must set standards for the treatment of water for human use and enforce these stringently.
• A universal system of charging for water services must be adopted, with due regard to the Constitutional right of every South African to have access to water. Such a system must include a Basic Service Subsidy that ensures that the poor and indigent have access to a prescribed minimum quantity of water that is required for healthy living.
• Water service provision must include the provision of sanitation, as a necessary health and conservation requirement.
• National Government must continuously monitor water resources contaminated with waterborne diseases, institute alternative water supplies, contain the area of infection, and initiate cleaning-up programmes.
• Infrastructure development and maintenance to achieve the above goals must be made possible with National Government providing a portion of the funding and skills-transfer to Local Government.
4.1.2. Water for industrial and agricultural use
In terms of industrial and agricultural water use the government must give special attention to the needs of established and emerging farmers.
• The development of irrigation schemes has been neglected, despite the massive successes achieved by irrigation schemes developed by the government in the mid-twentieth century.
• Catchment area research and large-scale infrastructure development in KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape must be commenced with as a matter of urgency. Currently vast quantities of water flow through the rivers of these regions, without being properly applied for agricultural or human needs.
4.2. Sustainable development and protection of South Africa’s water resources
A UDM Government will hold in trust, on behalf of all South Africans, the water resources of the country. This duty is two-fold:
4.2.1. Sustainable Development of water resources
• Catchment area management will be integrated to ensure the proper use of water throughout a catchment area, and to prevent abuse upstream from affecting all downstream users.
• Carefully monitoring water needs within catchment areas with a view to refining existing infrastructure and where necessary develop new infrastructure to enable the gathering, treatment and distribution of water for human, agricultural and industrial use.
4.2.2. Protection of water resources
• Continuously monitor the level of chemical and biological toxins and pollutants within water sources, and initiate remedial programmes when required.
• Trace the sources of pollution and ensure heavy penalties are imposed on repeat polluters. Polluters will pay compensation in addition to penalties.
• Identify alien plant invasions that threaten water resources and initiate safe and effective clearing-up programmes.
• Ensure continuous education and awareness on the sustainable use and protection of water resources.
4.3. Sustainable development and protection of South Africa’s forestry resources
A UDM Government will hold in trust, on behalf of all South Africans, the forestry resources of the country.
This duty is two-fold:
4.3.1. Sustainable Development of forestry resources
• Manage on a profitable basis the commercial forests in its ownership, and ensure that forests that are privatised continue to conform to size, age and environmental standards set by National Government.
• Encourage the involvement of local communities in the management of forests, whether public or private, with a view to job creation.
• In cooperation with Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the relevant Provincial Governments, manage and conserve the indigenous forests of South Africa.
• In cooperation with the Departments of Agriculture & Land Affairs and Environmental Affairs and Tourism, launch a campaign for the greening of South Africa to restore rural areas suffering from deforestation and soil erosion, replace alien vegetation, assist with crops and vegetable gardens and create green recreational spaces in urban areas. Such a campaign can create jobs on a significant scale.
4.3.2. Protection of forestry resources
• Set standards for cutting of commercial forests with clearly defined minimums and enforce these standards stringently.
• Regulate responsible fire management for forests.
• Develop pro-active fire-warning systems, and coordinate fire-fighting efforts when unplanned veld or forest fires occur.
• Ensure continuous education and awareness on the sustainable use and protection of forest resources, and specifically warn the public of the danger and costs of veld and forest fires.