IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), on 14 May launched a programme aimed at addressing water scarcity in South Africa’s agribusiness sector.

The four-year programme called Agriprocessing Resource Efficiency, will offer advisory services to selected companies in the agriprocessing sector. The aim is to improve energy and water use. In addition, the programme will work with stakeholders to identify key water efficiency needs, address regulatory issues, and share knowledge on best practice.

Scarce water threatens competitiveness

Water scarcity is exacerbated by climate change, drought and poor infrastructure maintenance. This results in substantial losses and disruptions to supply. Increasing demand for water means the gap between demand and supply is set to widen. This in turn leads to highers costs and constraints to economic activity.

“While the South African agriprocessing sector is a key driver of economic growth due to its potential to contribute to value addition, job creation and exports, water scarcity and increasing costs are threatening competitiveness. The partnership between IFC and SECO is aimed at reducing water consumption and mitigating risks associated with uncertain and constrained water supplies,” said Helene Budliger Artieda, Swiss ambassador to South Africa.

Awareness must be created

The agricultural sector accounts for about 60% of South Africa’s water demand. Estimates indicate a potential water deficit of 20% by 2035 if no action is taken.

Adamou Labara, IFC country manager, said: “IFC seeks to build and share knowledge and global expertise with agribusiness companies in South Africa through this initiative. We hope to raise awareness on resource use and mobilise the private sector to achieve sustainability and competitiveness.”

The programme will build the capacities of agriprocessors to find solutions to save, recover and reuse water to mitigate the impact of water scarcity and climate change. The goal of the programme is to boost South Africa’s agricultural productivity by encouraging efficient use of water and energy resources.

The South African government and World Bank Group have jointly identified agriculture and agribusiness as one of the key sectors for development. – Press release

For more information, contact Evelyn Situma at +254 701 961 045 or email esituma@ifc.org