South Africans Find Solutions at water conference in Israel
“Israel has successfully managed to turn a sandpit into a modern city and there is so much to learn”.
This is just one of the many positive comments that South African delegates had to say after seeing some of the life changing innovations and hearing from Israeli experts in water technology at the recent WATEC 2017 Exhibition & Conference, this September in Tel Aviv.
A host of Southern African government and municipal leaders descended on Tel Aviv for a week of solution sharing, networking – and “a little bit of sightseeing.”
The result? The delegation returned to South Africa, equipped not only with possible solutions for some of the challenges facing the country today but also with the knowledge that there is a global network willing and available to help.
It is no secret that South Africa joins many countries around the world in experiencing severe drought conditions that is bringing many parts of the country to its knees. The Rainbow Nation needs solutions – and fast! With this comes another set of challenges:
– budget constraints
– lack of manpower
– a tendency towards being risk averse which collectively inhibits problem solving.
“I think that there is a mindset in South Africa that needs to change,” Annette Lovemore from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality told Israel Link. “There is too much denial in South Africa that we are even facing a problem. First, we need to become far more open and honest about our situation. How do you deal with problems unless you first recognise and acknowledge there are problems!”
Lovemore describes attending WATEC 2017 as “a privilege”, as it presented unique opportunities “to be directly exposed to top experts in the field, with such high levels of expertise in areas which we are confronting in South Africa.” What further impressed Lovemore was “the communal support in Israel for local innovation. In South Africa, innovation frequently fails to find support because we fear to take risks.” Lovemore says that “we are up against a mindset that looks askance at the concept of innovation as ‘scary’. This risk-aversion must change in South Africa and I have now been exposed how Israelis are unafraid to take risks. More significant, I have been exposed where it has got them! WOW – very impressive.”
Taping into Israel Expertise
South Africa has far more natural resources than Israel and yet the latter is a world leader in water recycling and recycles almost 90% of her wastewater. Cape Town has a vast resource in the Atlantic Ocean that could significantly help reduce the effects of the drought if the city adopts Israeli desalination technology.
Darryl Moss from the Tshwane Municipality commented on how “it was a pleasure not just to see the technology that is available but also how new innovations allow for improved and more speedy operations at reduced costs.” This was all valuable input that “I will take back with me to South Africa.”
About his fellow participants on the South African delegation that attended the Tel Aviv Conference and Exhibition, Moss said “how heartening it is that there is a groundswell of grassroots activists in South Africa who are pushing for change. It is time for politicians to be thinking beyond the 5-year barrier and further into the future.”
All work and no play?
It wasn’t all work and no play – the delegation managed to spend some time in Jerusalem and spoke about the emotional and spiritual impact the visit to the Holy City had on them. Being first time visitors to Israel, they were amazed at how the tiny state had literally turned the desert into an oasis, but it was the sheer beauty and significance of Jerusalem that really impacted them. “Mind blowing” was just one of the catch phrases used to describe the experience.
It was evident from the praise the delegation heaped on Israel that this was a highly impactful visit – both from a professional and personal perspective.
“We return to South Africa far better equipped to engage the challenges of tomorrow,” was the overall sentiment conveyed by the South African visitors to Israel Link.