Students and young professionals around the world have converged to take part in the Wetskills Water Challenge. The programme aims to enhance innovative thinking in the water sector.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in conjunction with the Wetskills Foundation, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch Water Authorities Africa and Blue Deal programme are hosting the fifth Wetskills Water Challenge in South Africa.
The two-week programme, held virtually, started on Thursday, 25 February, is a pressure-cooker programme for students and young professionals with a passion for water. The participants are working in transdisciplinary and transcultural teams on challenging water cases.
Case studies being tackled
Some of the case studies which will be tackled include sustainable empowerment of local communities for cleaning rivers, swamp-friendly water hyacinth harvesting and virtual reality experience for capacitating staff which will be focusing on infrastructure maintenance, lack of investment and inadequate technical skills and its impact thereof.
Geologist and geographer at DWS, and Wetskills SA programme officer and supervisor Odwa Ntsika Mtembu said that it is a privilege that the country is hosting the challenge with the most brilliant young minds.
“The two-week challenge comes amid the persistent unpredictable weather patterns resulting in drought and the recent heavy flooding as experienced in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The water topic should be on everyone’s agenda, especially as the country [is currently] ranked the 30th driest country in the world,” Mtembu said.
The 2021 Wetskills Water Challenge is held under the theme ‘Valuing future water leaders, shaking the water-energy-food cocktail with their inclusive and catalytic capacity’.
It will conclude on 9 March 2021.