The South African National Biodiversity Institute has successfully convened a number of partners to consolidate gains made in investing in ecological infrastructure under the stewardship of uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership at the Catchment-Based Indaba on Ecological Infrastructure in Matatiele, Eastern Cape, 21–23 October 2019. The indaba was held under the theme of ‘Amanzi aphuma apha’ (water comes from here) to inspire action and change from the role players and to mobilise investment towards the uMzimvubu River Catchment.
This indaba is one of the ongoing catchment-based initiatives aimed at creating focused dialogues on issues pertaining to securing ecological infrastructure for guaranteed security of water in South Africa. South Africa is a water scarce country with annual rainfall below the global average. Ecological infrastructure is defined as naturally functioning ecosystems that deliver valuable services to the people such as healthy mountain catchments, rivers, wetlands and coastal dunes, and it is necessary in flood control, soil formation, water supply, waste dilution, transport etc.
Although nature provides ecological infrastructure for free, a capital and human investment is required to protect, restore and rehabilitate these ecosystems, such that they continue to deliver services to people.
The indaba was coupled with a field trip to allow participants to get a first-hand experience of the efforts and energy that partners have put into the catchment. This has also offered an opportunity for various role players to continue mobilising for more capital and human investment in the catchment. The catchment is currently severely pressured by rapid spread of alien invasive plant species and degraded rangelands as a result of poor land use, amongst others, which has significantly affected the ability of the catchment to function optimally.
In the past five years, catchment partners’ efforts have resulted in the replenishment of about 1.9 billion of litres of water into the system including the creation of about 600 Expanded Public Works Programme jobs and about 750 ‘Job Equivalent’ incomes to more than 1 000 households. So far a total of about 1 500 hectares of land have been cleared of the alien invasive plants and about 500 hectares of grasslands have been restored.
The catchment also boasts a green economy youth investment programme known as Eco Futures, which has about 40 interns, linked with Nedbank’s 800 Youth Employment Services interns.
During the indaba, participants agreed that much has happened since the uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership was initiated, but that a lot more, including the participation of new role players, was required. These include but are not limited to:
- Incorporation of youth in the strategic planning, management and capacity development for sustainable land use in the catchment.
- Expanding on a network of partnerships particularly around cultural and indigenous resources found in the catchment. These resources also contribute to the growing ecotourism business in the catchment, which in turn contributes to good land-use, create jobs and grow the local economy while taking care of the catchment.
- Exploring a model to sustain financial flow into the catchment.
- Inclusion of the Department of Basic Education in the existing efforts of awareness and education.
- Development of an advocacy strategy to cater for the catchment-wide mobilisation of support, resources to enable learning (tools of science).
- Attracting and investing in modernised catchment data management and development.
- Building of programmes more responsive to the local needs particularly around enterprise development e.g. enterprises responsible for harvesting of alien invasive plant species.
- Sustained momentum on monitoring and evaluation of the gains made and accurate reporting (monitoring tools).
- Participating in creation of an enabling policy environment for working and living in a catchment.
The indaba was also used as an opportunity to launch the Water Source Partnership (WSP) to safeguard and ensure effective management of the Eastern Cape and Southern Drakensberg Water Source Areas (WSAs). This is a high-level, multi-stakeholder relationship management and reports to multiple funders and stakeholders complementing the UCP 5-Year Strategy (2019–2024) to ensure the safeguarding and effective management of these critical WSAs in the Eastern Cape–Southern Drakensberg region.
The indaba was attended by more 100 delegates coming from many spheres of government, civil society organisations, local communities and business sectors. This indaba was proudly supported by the Departments of Science and Innovation, Water and Sanitation, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Matatiele Local Municipality, Water Research Commission, WWF-SA, Environmental and Rural Solutions, Living Lands, Conservation South Africa and the community at large.
For more information, please contact
Name: Dan’sile Cindi
Designation: Deputy Director: Ecological Infrastructure
Landline: +27 (0)12 843 5152
Cell: +27 (0)83 235 6787
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Name: Rector Vukeya
Designation: Website and Social Media Manager
Landline: +27 (0)12 843 5296
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