Dutch-South African initiatives


In recent years the effects of climate change became more and more noticed in everyday life. After years of severe drought, the City of Cape Town feared to meet with ‘Day Zero’. And flash floods occurred several times in the last years with a lot of damages and even casualties. Scientists predict that the effects of climate change will increase in the coming years, especially in the region of Southern Africa. Especially in the water resource management there is a need for international cooperation to face the challenges of the future together, to learn from each other and to bring in the innovative strengths of the young professionals. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic it is necessary to combine all forces to secure a reliable water and sanitation services.

To establish such cooperation the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure & Water Management together with the Dutch Regional Water Authorities started a worldwide program: ‘Blue Deal’. The Blue Deal is a program to establish long lasting partnerships between the Dutch Water Authorities and water professionals in different countries to provide 20 million people in 40 water management areas with improved flood prevention, water availability and sanitation by the year 2030.

Such Blue Deal Partnerships are established between the Dutch Water Authorities and the water professionals in South Africa, in eSwatini and in Mozambique. They will present themselves and the challenges for the coming years.

Wetskills Foundation plays an important role in the combination of intergenerational forces in this South Africa – The Netherlands cooperation on water. Since 2012 Wetskills Foundation organizes its biannual Wetskills Water Challenge in South Africa, always aligned and in cooperation with the WISA Conference. The Wetskills Challenge is a two week period where young talents with various background come together, work in mixed teams on water challenges formulated by sector partners. This year Wetskills Foundation and partners prepared the fifth Wetskills Challenges in South Africa. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this live event is postponed to February-March 2021.

In recent years the Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa partnered Wetskills foundation to bring-in and support young talents from South Africa in Wetskills Challenges worldwide. Many other partners in South Africa, Southern Africa and The Netherlands are supporting the Wetskills Challenge programmes in the region.