South Africa:International Year of Water Cooperation

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International Year of Water Cooperation
International Year of Water Cooperation Miniature Sheet
TypeCommemorative Issue
Country of IssueSouth Africa South Africa
Issuing AuthoritySouth Africa South African Post Office
Country of ProductionFrance France
Date of Issue20 March 2013
DesignerRachel-Mari Ackermann
PrinterCartor Security Printing
Printing MethodOffset Lithography
Paper247g/m² Self-Adhesive Litho Coated Stamp Ppaper with Coated Release
Stamp Size(s)31.32 mm × 48.28 mm (1.233 in × 1.901 in) (Drop-Shaped)
PerforationDie-Cut (Imperforate)
CommemoratesInternational Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day
NotabilityOdd-Shaped Stamps, Drop-Shaped Stamps, Moving Parts
No. Printed60,000 (Miniature Sheets)
Face Value(s)5 x International Small Letter Rate[a]
Catalogue Information
WNSZA007.13 (Human Consumption)
ZA005.13 (Agriculture)
ZA009.13 (Industry)
ZA006.13 (Biodiversity)
ZA008.13 (Working for Water Programme)
SACC2235 (Miniature Sheet)
Yvert et TellierA 1710 (Human Consumption)
A 1711 (Agriculture)
A 1712 (Industry)
A 1713 (Biodiversity)
A 1714 (Working for Water Programme)
SGZA MS2004 (Miniature Sheet)
Scott1493 (Miniature Sheet)
MICHELZA 2186 (Human Consumption)
ZA 2183 (Agriculture)
ZA 2184 (Industry)
ZA 2182 (Biodiversity)
ZA 2185 (Working for Water Programme)
ZA 2182-2186 (Miniature Sheet)

This was the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for 2012: "Unless we increase our capacity to use water wisely in agriculture, we will fail to end hunger and we will open the door to a range of other ills, including drought, famine and political instability".

In 2013, World Water Day will be dedicated to water cooperation internationally. 2013 has also been declared by the United Nations as International Year of Water Cooperation.

To raise awareness in South Africa, the South African Post Office issued a set of five drop-shaped self-adhesive stamps on 20 March 2013[1].

Issue Description

Water is critical for sustainable development, maintaining environmental integrity, eradicating poverty and hunger, and ensuring human health and well-being. Without water there would be no life; every living thing on earth is dependent on it. About 97% of the water on earth is salt water, 2% is ice at the poles and only 1% is fresh water.

To raise awareness of the importance of using water wisely, an international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. The main aim of World Water Day is to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to encourage the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater management.

In addition to observing World Water Day on 22 March, 2013 has also been declared as International Year of Water Cooperation. The main objective is raising awareness, both of the potential for increased cooperation internationally, and of the challenges facing water management in view of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services worldwide[1].

Issue Details

In South Africa, water is a very topical theme as it is a scarce commodity. South Africa receives almost 50% less rainfall than most other countries in the world. Rainfall is also distributed unevenly throughout the country and our water evaporates quickly due to our hot and dry climate. Climate change forecasts for South Africa suggest that, while some areas may get wetter, others will become much drier, and that increasing unpredictability will lead to more floods and droughts.

South Africa has many national projects that are focused on the preservation, purification, research and ecological conservation of water. Institutions like the Department of Water Affairs, the Water Research Commission, the Working for Water Programme, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and the South African National Biodiversity Institute are working together to achieve the goals of sustainable water use. There are also many educational initiatives by local authorities like Rand Water’s Water Wise initiative, which focuses on encouraging every South African to make a difference by using our water resources wisely[1].


The drop-shaped stamps reflect five recognised water uses[1].

Human Consumption (International Small Letter)

Clean drinking water is a precious resource and is essential for human health.

Purifying tap water is an expensive process; so it is important to close taps properly after use to prevent water loss. Taking shallow baths and short showers also uses less water[1].

Agriculture (International Small Letter)

Water is vital for irrigation and the production of food crops. South Africa's water resources are limited and should be used sparingly.

One way to do this is to irrigate at night to prevent water loss through evaporation or to install a drip irrigation system[1].

Industry (International Small Letter)

The use of wind turbines as a form of electrical generation has considerable environmental benefits when compared to the traditional method of burning fossil fuels, which requires a lot of water to cool the generators. Like all man-made things, wind power turbines have an impact on bat and bird species, but they stand out as water-saving sources of electricity, because they hardly use any water[1].

Biodiversity (International Small Letter)

The Clanwilliam Redfin (Barbuscalidus) is one of many small fish species from South Africa that are found nowhere else. It is severely threatened by water abstraction for agriculture, industry, pollution, urban consumption and by alien bass and trout.

The Mauve Bluet Damselfly (Proischnurapolychromatica) - shown on the stamp - which was thought to be extinct, was rediscovered after invasive alien plants and trees had been removed from the banks of rivers[1].

Working for Water Programme (International Small Letter)

The South African Government established the Working for Water Programme to champion the fight against invading alien plants.

Invasive alien trees were removed because they waste tremendous amounts of water. Shown on the stamp is a previously unemployed worker removing alien trees from a riverbank[1].

Water-Saving Tips for the Home

Water is a scarce commodity and looking after it is just as important as recycling waste or saving energy. Everyone can make a contribution however small, to use water wisely.

Here are some tips when using water in the home[1]:

  • Fix any leaks in your home. Ensure that all your taps are leak-free or get leaking taps fixed immediately.
  • Do not pour water down the drain if it can be used for other purposes like cleaning or gardening.
  • Avoid flushing your toilet unnecessarily - dispose of all tissues and sanitary towels by other means. The more you flush the more water is wasted.
  • When washing dishes use a bowl of water rather than letting the water run.
  • Rather take a shower than a bath, as a shower uses less water.
  • When showering, don’t take long showers.
  • To save water you can also switch your showerhead to an aerating fixture, which mixes air into the flow to keep the pressure high.
  • Do not defrost meat or other food packages under running tap water.

Miniature Sheet

First Day Cover


The South African Post Office took part for the first time in an International Competition in Spain during October 2014 and won a category for the World's Most Original Stamp Format. This competition was open for stamps issued during 2013. Other competing countries included Brazil, Canada, Finland, Italy, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The Winning Entry

The International Year of Water Cooperation issue consists of two circular discs, with the top disk die-cut with two apertures which can be rotated to show an individual stamp at the top end and the relevant information at the bottom.

Each self-adhesive stamp is in the shape of a water-droplet and the designs represent, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Human consumption, Working for Water Programme and Industry[2].

See Also

References & Notes


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Patunia (15 April 2013). "SAPO Issues New Stamps for the International Year of Water Cooperation". Everything South Africa. Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  2. Otto Peetoom. "Collect Southern Africa - Republic of South Africa - Commemoratives Part IV - The Sixth Decade 2011 to date - The South African Post Office's Award Winning Stamps - Spain 2014". South Africa Collector. Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Standardised Rate (International Small Letter) - International Letter to Southern African Countries up to 50 g (1.8 oz) and no larger than 120 mm × 235 mm × 5 mm (4.72 in × 9.25 in × 0.20 in) - R 6.30 on day of issue

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