South Africa

100 Water Heroes: Sanjay Wijesekera

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0010/Markisz

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0010/Markisz

Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Associate Director of Programmes at UNICEF

Sanjay Wijesekera is the Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Associate Director of Programmes at UNICEF, where he provides strategic leadership and oversight of UNICEF’s WASH programmes.

Prior to joining UNICEF in 2011, Sanjay worked for the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) where he was in charge of leading their policy and international programmes related to the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals. His work with DFID also included being an infrastructure advisor in Ghana, where he assisted in the coordination of a Joint Assistance Strategy for donors. He was also the main donor representative for the water industry during this time.

Sanjay’s experience in the water sector also includes his work with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in South Africa, during which he helped local governments to adequately deliver water and sanitation services, as well as assisting in the regulation of public and private sector service providers.

Sanjay is one of our #100WaterHeroes for devoting his career to highlighting, and finding solutions to, the global water, sanitation and hygiene crisis.


Twitter: @SanjayWash

100 Water Heroes: Bridgetti Lim Banda


Cape Town Water Crisis Community Creator & Founder of The Water Show

Bridgetti Lim Banda is a Social Entrepreneur, Live Video Producer, Live TV Host and Channel Manager. Bridgetti has also founded The Cape Town Water Crisis page and online community on Facebook, where members are able to engage in constructive dialogues surrounding the area’s severe water issues.

In April 2017, Bridgetti launched The Water Show, in which she interviews water experts and thought leaders in the sector. During these broadcasts, Bridgetti speaks to her guests about how to make water-constrained South Africa more water resilient, and how these lessons can help find a global solution to the water crisis. Throughout this work, Bridgetti seeks to “connect with water professionals and citizens from around the globe to create local and global awareness, education, and a shared body of knowledge and to learn from experiences shared.” Mina was recently a guest on The Water Show, during which she chatted to Bridgetti about the global water crisis and what she learnt during her time in South Africa.

In addition to curating The Cape Town Water Crisis Facebook community, Bridgetti also manages the Water Forum South Africa (WFSA) page, which works on “changing the narrative from water scarcity to abundance for all through conversations that matter with water professionals.”

Bridgetti is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her commitment to building water conscious communities and for connecting professionals and thought leaders in the water sector.



Facebook: @Bridgetti.Live

Twitter: @Bridgetti

100 Water Heroes: Christine Colvin


Freshwater Senior Manager at World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa

Christine Colvin works with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as Freshwater Senior Manager for South Africa. Christine leads WWF-SA as they seek to provide water security throughout the region.

Christine has worked at WWF for over seven years and, in that time, has launched a number of successful initiatives that include Water Source Areas and Water Stewardship programmes, as well as the Journey of Water Campaign aimed at connecting people to where their water comes from.

Prior to working with WWF, Christine spent sixteen years as a Hydrosciences Group Leader at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, where she lead a group of water experts in “building the science and evidence base for sustainable Integrated Water Resource Management in South Africa.”

Christine has also been a prominent voice during Cape Town’s recent drought and, when speaking on the future of South Africa’s water situation, said:

“We encourage you to immerse yourself in each potential reality before considering how you might prepare, and most critically, what you could do differently today.”

Christine is one of our #100WaterHeroes for passionately advocating for a water secure future, and for leading initiatives that can bring South Africa closer to that goal.


Twitter: @ColvinH2O 

100 Water Heroes: Mbali Chiya

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Journalist, Alex FM

Mbali Chiya is a South African journalist whose work on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been internationally recognised. In 2014, Mbali was named as one of their WASH Media Award winners for her feature, Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.

The WASH Media Prize is “awarded to journalists for excellence in reporting on critical water, sanitation and hygiene issues,” a competition that is entered by people throughout the world. Mbali’s winning feature was focused on raising awareness of WASH issues in Alexandra Township, Gauteng.

By engaging with community members on their WASH concerns, Mbali was able to explain their rights to adequate WASH facilities, something she believes many of them did not initially understand. In competition with a number of international journalists, Mbali’s feature won the “The Human Right to Water and Sanitation” category.

Mbali is one of our #100WaterHeroes for raising awareness about WASH issues in South Africa and for reminding citizens of their rights to adequate WASH facilities.

Listen to Mbali’s winning feature:

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Valerie Naidoo


Executive Manager at Water Research Commission

Dr. Valerie Naidoo is the Executive Manager of Business Development and Innovations at the Water Research Commission (WRC) where she is leading innovative water research and development initiatives. The WRC “funds and facilitates research in water-related innovation and disseminates such knowledge for the advancement of national water security.”

Prior to her work with WRC, Valerie obtained her Masters and PhD in Water Treatment Systems. She worked as a Project Coordinator for the Pollution Research Group, and continued on to join Unilever’s Research and Development Manager in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Valerie is also currently the Chairperson of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), a non-profit company that seeks to encourage, “professional excellence in the water sector through building expertise, sharing knowledge and improving quality of life.”

Valerie is one of our #100WaterHeroes for leading key research initiatives in the water and development sectors of South Africa.


100 Water Heroes: Dr. Anthony Turton


Environmental Advisor, Speaker, Author

Dr. Anthony Turton is a celebrated Environmental Advisor, Speaker and Author, and has made significant contributions to water resource management in South Africa. Anthony is committed to environmental advocacy, because he “believe[s] that we are reaching limits to our current developmental approaches and will be forced to make changes in the near future, whether we like it or not.”

Anthony has published a wide range of acclaimed books, chapters, reports and scientific publications, many of which are available on his website. He is also currently a Professor at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of Free State, as well as a professional speaker and environmental consultant.

Anthony’s experience in the water management sector is widespread, and he has helped lead a myriad of local and international institutions, such as the Universities Partnership for Transboundary Waters, International Water Resource Association and the World Water Council.

He has also been given a number of prestigious awards, including the Habitat Council Award (2009), the Nick Steele Memorial Award for Top Environmentalist of the Year (2010), the Green Globe Award for Environmental Activist of the Year, 2012 and the WESSA Award for Lifetime Conservation Achiever 2016.

Anthony is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his dynamic contributions to advancing water conservation in South Africa, and throughout the world.



Twitter: @TurtonWater

100 Water Heroes: Hanli Prinsloo

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Co-founder and CEO of I AM WATER

Hanli Prinsloo is a South African freediver, speaker, writer and ocean conservationist. In 2010, she founded I AM WATER, an ocean conservation trust that seeks to “engage and educate ocean-users with the world beneath the waves in order to understand their personal opportunity to protect the planet.”

Prior to launching I AM WATER, Hanli was a highly successful freediver, breaking 11 South African freediving records. She was also the first South African to simultaneously hold 6 freediving records. Hanli’s freediving career exposed her to the beauty of our oceans, as well as the extreme vulnerability of marine organisms. I AM WATER looks to advance ocean conservation “through transformative ocean experience,” ultimately facilitating a deeper understanding of the aquatic world beneath us.

In addition to her work with I AM WATER, Hanli was selected as a World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders.

Hanli is one of our #100WaterHeroes for founding I AM WATER, and for her dedication to furthering ocean advocacy causes throughout South Africa.

100 Water Heroes: Rudo Angela Sanyanga

African Programme Director for International Rivers.

Rudo Angela Sanyanga is the African Programme Director for International Rivers. She provides assistance and support to African communities and NGOs looking to safeguard themselves “from the destructive impacts of large dams.”

Much of Rudo’s work centres around monitoring proposed dam projects and helping those negatively affected by dam construction. She is also focused on encouraging decentralised, sustainable energy alternatives to large dams.

Prior to working with International Rivers, Rudo was an Aquatic Ecology Researcher, university lecturer and Environmental Consultant. She holds a Masters Degree in Applied Hydrobiology, as well as a PhD in Aquatic Systems Ecology.

Rudo is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her leadership of International Rivers’ Africa program, as she protects rivers and advocates for communities affected by the construction of destructive dams.


100 Water Heroes: Mokena Makeka

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Founder and Managing Director of Makeka Design Lab

Mokena Makeka is the Founder and Managing Director of Makeka Design Lab, an “interdisciplinary design practice led by architecture and urban design as a filter and tool for design manifestation.” Mokena’s ethos lies in his belief that design has the power to better people’s lives, especially when done sustainably.

Mokena is an internationally renowned, award-winning architect whose fusion of innovation and sustainability have put him on the map. Mokena’s professional achievements are extensive and include being an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Program Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is also a member of the African Leadership Network and a Aliko Dangote Fellow.

Mokena’s passion for sustainable design has been consistently communicated throughout his career. He has spoken at a range of conferences and gatherings including the Green Building conference and the Seminar of Social Innovation and Sustainability (Brasil). Mokena has contributed key writings to the Sustainable Waters Handbook, and published a piece entitled Counter Currents: Experiments in Sustainability in Cape Town

Mokena is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his contributions to the design sector, and for recognising the importance of sustainable design.

Twitter: @MokenaMakeka