At the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), we recognize that the natural world’s resources are limited and undergoing rapid depletion and transformation. We know that current practices of use and management are inadequate to deal with the rapid changes and challenges we’re facing.

Our approach involves thinking across disciplines, boundaries and systems. We have a record of designing practical interventions to address the vulnerability of people and ecosystems and merge considerations from both environmental and social perspectives.

We specialize in participatory, research-based project implementation aimed at addressing issues of sustainability, inequity, and poverty by building natural-resource management competence and supporting sustainable water-based livelihoods.

Our work helps provide a foundation for robust development policy and practice in South Africa that can stand up to an increasingly complex world. AWARD is a non-profit organisation.

Some of the things that matter to us as an organisation are:

Sustainable futures

Integrated water resource management (IWRM) has gained prominence as a powerful water management concept. It is an idea that promotes the equitable and sustainable management of a catchment by all who live and share its waters. The complexities of realising IWRM within the context of South Africa makes for fascinating and important work.

Innovative research

We are developing new, multi-disciplinary ways of looking at natural resource management that deal with the realities facing communities in South Africa. We involve these communities in a process of social learning to develop a practice-based understanding of policy, the role of leadership and communication, governance, collective action and regulation and self-organisation.

Learning & sharing

Each river-sharing community faces a set of needs and challenges when trying to balance social development imperatives and resource sustainability. With researchers, partner organisations and communities, we develop and test new and appropriate ways of managing water to address water security issues,  sharing our learning and findings along the way.

AWARD's projects

You can read more about our award-winning work by reviewing various current and past projects. While we continue to build our website, adding detail and documentation to our project pages, you're welcome to email for more information on any of them and we'll gladly assist. In addition to these featured projects, you can read about Wise-use of Wetlands and The SWELL programme


USAID: ‘Resilience in the Limpopo Basin Program’ (RESILIM) Olifants (O) is a five-year, $10.7 million program implemented by the Association for Water and Rural Development.


The Wise Use of Wetlands Project works with communities to ensure that the rehabilitation of wetlands is sustainable. The project started in response to issues that the national Working for Wetlands programme noted following rehabilitation efforts.

The SWELL programme

The Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL) programme sought to to enable collaborative, participatory planning to increase water security for villagers in order that poor and vulnerable people have greater water and food security, improved income and better health, and so contribute to more robust and sustainable livelihoods.

Save the Sand Programme

The Save the Sand Programme (SSP) promoted the practices of Integrated Catchment Management and Land Care in South Africa, using the Sand River Catchment as a test case.

The Shared Rivers Initiative

Initiated in 2007, this study was designed to answer one central question: ‘What factors enable or constrain achieving environmental flows in the lowveld rivers?”.