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16 November 2020

Access to water at the heart of second Constitutional Dialogue

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Monday 16 November 2020 – The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), together with the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative (NFDI), will host their second Constitutional Dialogue on Thursday 19 November 2020 from 10h00-14h00 at several venues in Limpopo and online via the Zoom platform.  The hybrid virtual-physical dialogue will look at the theme “Let’s Talk about Access to Water and Sanitation,” and will adhere to all COVID-19 protocols.

Governments around the world have for many years focused on water security and sanitation as a key human rights issue. The international community elevated this issue when it was included as Millennium Development Goal 7, adopted by Heads of State and Government at the United Nations in 2000.  In 2015, the United Nations introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which again included the issue of water access and sanitation – as Goal 6.   Through the adoption of the SDGs, Heads of State and Government committed, amongst others, to “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all … [and] … adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030”.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for equitable access to water and good sanitation, as well as the dire implications should this basic human need continue to be unmet.

This multi-stakeholder Constitutional Dialogue also comes amidst the UN-declared Water Action Decade, 2018-2028.  Stakeholders will also come together to discuss these important issues on the UN-declared World Toilet Day.

The Premier of the Limpopo Province, Mr Stan Mathabatha, will welcome participants in the Dialogue. Ms Hameda Deedat, Acting Executive Director, National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI), will present the keynote address.

Recognising the importance and complexity of the  issue of access to water, as well as the need for government, business and civil society to work with communities to achieve universal access to water and sanitation, the Dialogue will include a range of breakaway sessions which delegates will also be able to attend.

Each session will see a prominent expert in her / his field making a presentation, after which there will be time for discussion and the proposing of solutions to the challenges raised. Central to the Dialogue will be to highlight the involvement of communities in driving awareness of the need for better water security and sanitation and, more particularly, what communities are doing, and could be doing, to change their lived realities.

These breakaway sessions are:




Prof Mike Muller

Wits University School of Governance

Why your taps run dry – and what you can do about it

Ms Thando Mhlanga

International Budget Partnership / Social Audit Network

Social audits of access to water and sanitation

Mr Dhesigen Naidoo

CEO, Water Research Commission

Water Research Commission multiple use systems pilot project in Limpopo

Prof John Odiyo

University of Venda

Community-based water projects in Limpopo

Mr Morore Ben Mphahlele

Former CEO, Limpopo Economic Development Agency

Business contributions to improving access to water

Media are invited to participate in the Dialogue at:

For interviews please contact
Ms Manusha Pillai on 082 389 3587 or
Mr Siyabulela Gebe on +27 72 371 4807 or

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

About the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative (NFDI)

The central aim of NFDI is earnest dialogue and consensus building. The social and political diversity of the Founding Member foundations is a mirror of our country. NFDI is convinced that this provides a sufficiently broad basis for South Africans from different backgrounds and persuasions to reflect on the Nation’s experience of the past 21 years, to confront our problems, challenges, fears and perceptions about one another and the country in search of a contract within which we can share a common citizenship as defined in the Constitution.

Join the conversation at:

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Manusha Pillai
Mobile:  082 389 3587

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