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STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

 

DR B.S.S.DLAMINI

 

AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE SUKUMANI NYAMANE RURAL WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION PROJECT

 

AT NYAMANE HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS GROUND

 

THURSDAY 23 MAY 2013

 

Honourable Ministers

Chiefs

Regional Administrator

Members of both Houses of Parliament

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

This Official Opening of the Sukumani Nyamane Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project is a special day indeed for the 3,600 people who will benefit from the scheme. And it is a happy day, too, for His Majesty’s Government in view of the importance that is attached to our people having access to potable water and good sanitation arrangements.

 

In the global context, many refer to water as “the new oil” – a resource long wasted and now growing expensive and soon to be overwhelmed by insatiable demand. In Swaziland we are fortunate in not having the problem faced by some of the big economies of the Eastern World where as much as 80-90% of the available water is currently being used. And demand rising.

 

And as we all know, the supply of water in the world is finite, whether at the present time on, or in, the surface of the planet or in evaporated form and ready to descend. There is no more or less water available to us than in the time of Jesus Christ. Nor will there be one hundred years from now. An astoundingly large proportion of that – 97% - is salt water in the oceans. Desalination of that water is, at the present time, far too expensive. Of the remaining 3%, most is in frozen form leaving barely 0.75% for living things on land to survive on. And a huge proportion of that amount is used for agriculture. Those figures, I find, rather put things in perspective.

 

And the absolute necessity for a certain amount of water for personal consumption is undeniable. A human being needs a basic minimum of two litres of water in food or drink every day. For this there is no substitute.

 

Clearly water has the ability to improve life or make it thoroughly miserable and life-threatening.

 

And, with a billion people in the world with no access to piped drinking water or safe taps or wells, it is hardly surprising that many countries, when measuring the cost of disease and malnutrition caused by such deprivation, find that it amounts to a significant number of percentage points of GDP.

 In Swaziland, Government’s commitment to more and more people having access to potable water and good sanitation arrangements has enabled us to reach 71% of the population – up from around 54% at the start of this Administration. The expectation is that we will reach 73% by the end of this year. Our satisfaction at having reached such a creditable figure is matched only by our determination to meet the needs of the remaining 27% as quickly as possible.

 

The scheme that we are launching here in the Maseyisini Inkhundla is an impressive one, in a number of respects. In the first instance, it is an in-house project, funded entirely by Government through the resources of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy.


Secondly, the project contains that vital ingredient of implementation – the partnership between those Ministries and the local community.   In fact, the community can be credited with having made a 25% contribution in-kind. Through local material mobilization, and labour support during the digging of trenches, backfilling and constructing standpipes, the members of the local community have contributed work to the value of E700,000, the total cost of the project having been E2.8 million. That is highly commendable and a further reflection of the value of willing and capable local support in getting these essential projects completed within the context of relatively scarce national resources.


As a result we have a borehole that will supply five litres of water every second, and serving two reservoirs, each with a capacity of 360,000 litres. Distribution is over an impressive 32 kilometres to 100 communal standpipes. And that boils down to no homestead being further than 200 metres away from a standpipe.

That will transform the lives of 3,600 people in a number of ways. It will reduce the incidence of water-borne disease. It will relieve the water gatherers from the time-consuming and physically exhausting task of going vast distances to collect potable water. And it will release time for more productive activity. Given such a crucial role for water in daily life, there can be no more significant contribution to poverty reduction.  

The sanitation component of the Project is met by the provision of 360 VIP pit latrines, built by the Ministry of Health, with hygiene education provided by the Ministries of Health and Natural Resources and Energy by means of week-long training sessions.


It is also hugely encouraging to note that, since 2008, the Micro-Projects Programme from the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy have completed 27 similar rural water supply schemes at a cost of E48 million, benefitting as many as 90,000 people as well as a number of schools and clinics. And, as I speak, a further 10 rural water supply schemes are in the course of construction which, when completed, will benefit 25,000 people as well as a number of schools and clinics.


So, without risking complacency, we can feel considerable satisfaction with the progress made over the past five years in reaching a further 17% of the population with potable water and improved sanitation arrangements. And we are pleased to see the effectiveness of the Micro-Projects programme with its substantial self-help component. Our commendation must also go to the people of the various communities who have put their shoulder to the wheel and provided valuable physical support in each project.

A well worn expression is “nothing lasts forever.” These schemes will not perform indefinitely to the requisite standard. The functioning life will be much reduced if there is no continuing commitment in the communities to providing the necessary maintenance.  So I take the opportunity to issue a most important plea to the community – please make your contributions towards the Operations and Maintenance Fund and use those resources to conduct the maintenance programme in the manner in which you have been advised.


It remains for me to thank all who have contributed to the construction of this Project and the Nyamane High School for graciously hosting this event.

It is now my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to declare the Sukumani Nyamane Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project officially opened.

 

Thank you.

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