Let us use water with great care – speakers at the Water Day celebration

They all brought important messages about water! Seated, from left, are Unathi Mila from the Department of Water and Sanitation; Nothando Mkhize, guest speaker; Professor Roger Coopoosamy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering; Dr Thobile Poswa, Head of the Department of Environmental Health; and Professor Babatunde Bakare, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering; and guests and MUT staff

The University took part in the Water Week – 20-26 March 2024, by celebrating Water Day on 19 March 2024 at the Faculty of Natural Sciences in the North Campus. The world will celebrate International Water Day, which will be on 22 March 2024. The MUT event drew together experts in water conservation and water research. During the day-long event, which was attended by guests from Umngeni-uThukela Water, eThekwini Water and Sanitation, the deans of the University’s faculties, the Community Engagement and Development directorate leadership, students and many online, speaker after speaker emphasised the centrality of water, as a scarce commodity that needs to be used with the greatest of care. Some even said water was more important than electricity. “People lived for centuries without electricity, but we cannot live without water,’ said Nothando Mkhize, guest speaker, and MUT Civil Engineering graduate, and now Deputy Chair of the Umngeni-Thukela Water.  All the speakers urged the audience to take part in the preservation of water by using the amount that they need, and not to pollute it.

First was Dr Thobile Poswa, Head of the Department of Environment Health, which organised the event. Dr Poswa told the audience that the theme for the event was ‘Water for peace; Water for all’.  Dr Poswa highlighted why water is important. His colleague in the department, and one of the organisers, Thuli Mtshengu, said access to clean water was a constitutional right; denying people access to clean water was a serious offense.

Academics, researchers, government departments, we need to come up with solutions to water problems. Our theme – ‘Water for all’, urges all to use water sparingly. ‘Water for peace’, is a call to share water. Let us all work together,” Mtshengu said. Mtshengu reminded the audience that Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals, dictates that people must have access to clean water, which she described as a “natural resource”, which people must “share and cherish”.

The request to look after water was reinforced by Mkhize, who appealed to the students to take leadership in water preservation. “I am going to speak to you as a big sister,” Mkhize said. “Water is a human right we cannot live without. You cannot afford to mess with water,” Mkhize said. Mkhize also said that she was “impressed with the presentation by the students. They are using modern technology. You need to raise the standards to give solutions to problems. You need to leverage water for peace,” Mkhize said.

The leadership of the University also had constructive words for the audience. The Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Roger Coopoosamy. Illustrating the importance of water, Professor Coopoosamy cited some local events where there was conflict because of the shortage of water. The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Babatunde Bakare, and the Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Professor Alfred Msomi, also highlighted the importance of water. Professor Bakare, an expert in water research, highlighted the need to look after the infrastructure; and that there are still millions of people, particularly in the rural areas, that do not have running water. The United Nations Organisation says there are over 2.2 billion people who have no access to water.