Last year, 45 million children lacked access to basic drinking water services in South Asia, more than any other region, but UNICEF said services were expanding rapidly, with that number slated to be halved by 2030

eThekwini municipality has allocated R30 million to fix the water pump station that was destroyed by a fire in Ntuzuma in the north of Durban.

The allocation was announced in a joint statement on Monday after a multi-stakeholder technical team meeting was held to resolve eThekwini Metro water issues. The water pump system has been operating at 50% capacity since the Ntuzuma Reservoir 2 pump station was damaged by a fire in April last year.

The meeting was held between eThekwini Metro and uMngeni-uThukela Water departments under the directives of water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu. Dr. Sean Philips, director-general of the Department of Water and Sanitation, attended the meeting.

"The project [upgrade] will commence in March this year and is planned to be completed by the 2025/26 financial year. This project will start improving water supply to Inanda, Lindelani and KwaMashu by July 2024," the statement said, as per SA News.

"The planners in DWS anticipated this growth in demand and put in place plans to transfer water from the uMkhomazi River to augment uMngeni Water Supply System (uMWS), through the Umkhomazi Water Project, as well as a project to raise the wall of the Hazelmere Dam," it added.

The team further noted that the Hazelmere Dam wall — built with a budget of R820 million and completed last year — has helped store double the amount of water than before.

To store additional water, Umgeni-uThukela completed a project worth R135 million to increase the capacity of the Hazelmere Water Treatment Works from 55 to 75 megaliters per day.

"Umgeni-uThukela will further increase the capacity of the treatment works to 90 ml per day within the next three years, at a cost of R25 million," as per the statement.

The statement also said the municipality has kept a R1 billion per annum budget for these projects, which will continue every year for the foreseeable future. It explained that some of these projects begin in the 2022-2023 municipal financial year and they are being funded by the infrastructure levy.

In the last two years, the municipality has constructed 12 new reservoirs worth R500 million to enhance water supply and implemented an active leak detection and repair program. Furthermore, the municipality is reportedly "implementing a pressure management program through installing 108 pressure management valves, in addition to the 3000 that already exist."