The Water Research Commission (WRC) was founded in 1971, after a period of serious water shortages. It began at a time when water research and development in South Africa was limited to a few institutions, with an inadequate funding level and no research coordination. In addition, there was little strategic direction for the identification of priority research areas or the appropriate sharing of information.
South Africa is still under threat of a lack of sufficient water, while water quality and availability issues are becoming more acute. However, the country is much better prepared to deal with this problem due to the WRC’s meaningful contribution to the development of the capacity of the water sector, the broadening of the country’s water-centred research and development base, and the WRC’s continued commitment to channel and fund research on critical water issues.
It is envisaged that South Africa’s water problems may intensify. Issues such as water for all, quality of life and a sustainable environment are essential aspects of the country’s national priorities and require considerable attention. The role of South Africa in SADC (Southern African Development Community) and NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), especially with regard to water resource, water supply and sanitation issues, poses new challenges and requires new initiatives, which are within the mandate of the WRC.
The functions of the WRC include:
Coordination, cooperation and communication of water research
Determining water research needs
Funding for water research
Promoting the effective transfer of technology and information
To enhance knowledge within the water industry