March 28, 2014
Chairman of the Mukuvisi Woodlands Association, Simon Pitt
Members of the Mukuvisi Woodlands Association here present
ZINWA Management and Staff here present
Teachers and School Staff from the Eco schools
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinguished honour and privilege to stand before you today on this highly momentous occasion where we celebrate one of the most strategic and important resource in people’s lives. This resource is water.
It is a resource whose strategic importance speaks to every aspect of life be it in the home, school, industry, agriculture, tourism, energy and recreation among others. So as we mark World Water Day today, we should be cherishing the fact that Zimbabwe is a country endowed with various natural resources, water among them.
World Water Day was mooted and set aside in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The idea of setting March 22 as was to draw the attention of policy makers to issues affecting this highly important and finite resource. It was set aside as a day for us to reflect on the importance of water and device ways and mechanisms of protecting the resource for the betterment of the livelihoods of all people.
This year World Water Day is being marked under the theme Water and Energy, the idea being for us to take a closer look at the nexus and intricate relationship between water and energy.
Water has always been an important component in the energy production chain. Water is largely used in the production of hydroelectric power which is accounts for a significant chunk of the world’s energy. Even in Zimbabwe, the bulk of our electricity is generated using water. Despite hydroelectricity being the country’s major source of energy, not much development has been witnessed in the development of the same. We only have the Kariba Power station, which is built of a watercourse which we share with Zambia. However, a deliberate policy of developing mini-hydro power stations at all suitable existing dam sites and dams under construction has been adopted and will go a very long way in alleviating the current energy deficit we have. In this regard, greater co-operation is needed between water and energy planners in the country.
Water is also an important component in the production of other forms of energy such as nuclear and thermal power. The use of water is also high in the production chain of transportation fuels where water use is high in petroleum extraction and fuel refinery.
The advent for the use of bio fuels has also increased the importance of water in the energy chain. Crops such as sugar cane that are used to produce fuels such as ethanol also need significant amounts of water to be grown and processed.
Interestingly, world statistics have revealed that around 8 percent of all the energy produced, is used in the treatment, pumping and transportation of water to various consumers. The treatment processes also include the treatment of waste water.
This therefore brings the challenge to us. We need to ensure that at any given moment we have sufficient water if we are to have sufficient energy as a people. Conversely we also need to have sufficient energy supplies for us to have access to clean and safe water.
Currently in Zimbabwe, quite a number of people do not have reliable access to water simply because of the incessant power cuts that do not spare the water treatment plants thereby hindering the water reticulation process.
The solution to this lies with us. It lies with how good we manage our water resources and even our energy sources. Besides water playing a critical part in energy production, it also goes without saying that the use of the said energy has also increased the threat of pollution to our water resources. Water courses are now at a higher risk of pollution from the waste produced during energy production and use. Oil spillages in some countries and dirty water that comes of energy production plants continue to poses a real and credible threat to our water. The adoption of cleaner energy sources and the formulation of policies that deter polluters or provide remedies to polluted water is the way to go.
Another important factor that also needs to be taken into account is how the ever intricate nexus between water and energy has changed the dynamics of water resources management, especially the allocation aspect of it. The fact that bio fuels require a lot of water throughout their production chain means there is an urgent need for us as water managers to now redo our mathematics and see how these emerging water demands can be taken care of. It requires new thinking, new approaches and new strategies and in this regard we need live up to the task. This however is no mean feat. There will be no easy solutions to this challenge but nevertheless, the answers should be found and found by us as a people.
In light of all this, we therefore need to conserve the water that we have. We have to ensure that the available water is optimally utilised for the benefit of everyone. It should be everyone’s responsibility to conserve water and to conserve the environment that gives us clean and safe water. We should take great care of our wetlands, our trees, our rivers, our streams and protect them from pollution. Everyone should, in his small way, contribute to the larger cause of protecting our water courses and conserving the limited water available.
Once everyone makes his own contribution, our combined efforts will later speak well about us when history judges us in the fullness of time.
I THANK YOU