Project Overview

The Living Catchments Project is a partnership project between SANBI and the Water Research Commission (WRC) through funding from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The project responds to the Water Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap (Water RDI Roadmap), a national planning intervention aimed at addressing water scarcity in South Africa over a 10-year period between 2015 and 2025. The Water RDI Roadmap is a high-level planning intervention developed by the WRC, DSI, and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to guide research, coordinate existing initiatives and allocate new resources to facilitate a more effective water system.

The Living Catchments project also known as enhancing research, innovation and impact through engaged communities of practice in key catchments associated with Strategic Water Source Areas (SWSAs), intended to strengthen the enabling environment for water governance at the nexus of landscapes and water supply in South Africa. The project’s primary aim is thus to create a more resilient, more resourced, and more relational communities at both the catchment and national levels that are able to draw from the best that the research has to offer in the process of governing the equitable, productive, and sustainable use of water resources and ecosystem goods and services. The project recognizes that addressing water challenges necessitates strengthening water governance, promoting multidisciplinary planning and collaboration, and unlocking investments in transformative innovation practices. The project commenced in the year 2019 and will end in November 2023.

Where the project is implemented:

The project is implemented in four distinct South African catchments associated with Strategic Water Source Areas (SWSAs) i.e. the uMzimvubu catchment in the Eastern Cape, the uThukela catchment in KwaZulu-Natal, the Berg-Breede catchment in the Western Cape, and the Olifants catchment in Mpumalanga. These specific catchments were chosen based on their strategic significance to the country’s economy, the reliance of major cities on these water sources, and their vital role in supporting rural livelihoods.

Figure 1: The Living Catchments project sites.

What have we achieved?

  • Appointed four Catchment Conveners to facilitate co-learning and enable collaboration and co-creation at the nexus of built and ecological infrastructure: Environmental & Rural Solution (ERS) for the uMzimvubu catchment; Living Lands (LL) for the Berg-Breede catchment; Kruger to Canyons (K2C) for Olifants catchment and the Institute for Natural Resources (INR) for uThukela catchment.
  • Supported two communities of practice in the uMzimvubu and Olifants catchments.
  • Supported in the establishment of two sustainable communities of practice in uThukela (Upper uThukela Catchment Partnership also known as Northern Drakensberg Collaborative) and in the Berg Breede (Breede-Sonderend Catchment Collaborative).
  • Three Catchment-based Indabas on Ecological Infrastructure were convened in collaboration with various partners in the three catchments which included the:
  • First Catchment-based Indaba: uMzimvubu catchment in Matatiele held from the 21st to 23rd October 2019 under the theme- ‘Amanzi aphuma apha’ (Water comes from here).
  • Second Catchment-based Indaba: uThukela catchment in the North Drakensberg from the 2nd to 4th November 2022 under the theme lapho kunemithombo yamanzi kunokuphila’ (Where there is water there is life).
  • Third Catchment-based Indaba: Olifants catchment held in Hoedspruit from 1st to 3rd November 2022 under the theme – Mati ya hina – ku tirha swin’we kuhlayisa mati; Meetse a rena – Go soma moogo bakeng sa polokego ya meetse (Our Water – working together for water security).
  • Produced the Good Practice Guide for Policy Advice Practitioners working towards water security at the nexus of built and ecological infrastructure
  • Appointed 7 postgraduate students (2 Ph.D. and 5 Masters) who contributes towards the development of capacity in the project.

Resource produced:

Click here to access the products.

For more information: Contact Mahlodi Tau, Director: Biodiversity Mainstreaming or Dan’sile Cindi, Deputy Director: Biodiversity Mainstreaming

Project team photo:

Figure 2: Project team members from the left – Hulisani Magada; Hulisani Nengovhela; Angela Chokoe; Lucy Ngubeni; Namhla Mbona; Mahlodi Tau; Tanya Layne; Dan’sile Cindi and Zoleka Mkhize.

Who are we:

The Living Catchment Project Team is based at the Pretoria and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

  • Director: Biodiversity Mainstreaming: Mr Mahlodi Tau
  • Deputy Director: Biodiversity Mainstreaming: Dan’sile Cindi
  • Deputy Director: Social and Organisational Learning: Tanya Layne
  • Policy Advisor: Alex Marsh
  • Assistant Director: Biodiversity Mainstreaming: Namhla Mbona
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer: Hulisani Magada
  • Provisional Admin Officer: Uyanda Zembe
  • Administrator: Mathlodi Mphaka
  • Postgraduate students:  Anele Kholiwe Ntshangase; Silindile Mtshali (PhD); Erin Ueckermann; Sphindile Dlamini; Mzukisi Kuse (PhD); Kwanele Siyengo and Philisa Dunyana
  • Groen Sebenza Interns: Zoleka Mkhize, Puseletso Nkadimeng, Serole Chokoe, and Hulisani Nengovhela
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