Without a viable governance system, achieving water resources protection within Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) will not be possible. Currently the main institutions tasked with IWRM in South Africa include the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the newly established Olifants Catchment Management Agency (OCMA), and in Mozambique Ara-Sul (the agency responsible for the river basins in southern Mozambique including the Limpopo Basin) and DNA (Direccao Nacional das Aguas) responsible for policy, planning, monitoring, and reporting for water supply and sanitation. Both countries are part of LIMCOM (Limpopo Watercourse Commission). All of these institutions are tasked – together with stakeholders - with developing and implementing strategies for water resources protection which are designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the basin’s water resources so as to provide the goods and services needed by society into the future.

As a new institution, the OCMA is in the process of forming strategic partnerships for action across the basin and receiving delegations for water resources management within South Africa. This provides an ideal opportunity for AWARD, through RESILIM-O, to support an integrated, systemic learning approach to IWRM both within sovereign states and across the basin.

Indeed when viewed through a transboundary water resources lens, a basin-wide approach is key to resilience given the ever-increasing developmental pressures that have both local and downstream impacts. Moreover, this future will be one that requires adaptation to an ever-changing world, especially to the impacts of climate change and other drivers of change such as increasing population, increased water demand especially with urbanization. Added to this are the demands by various sectors such as energy production, agriculture, industry and mining.

In keeping with the National Water Act of 1998, adaptation requires a strong emphasis on measures that center on water conservation and water demand management (WCDM) and on ensuring that the Olifants Basin’s water resources are used more efficiently and effectively before turning to the use of waters from other catchments through inter-basin transfers which may jeopardise water security for that area.

AWARD aims to influence and facilitate a more systemic and integrated approach – particularly for water resources protection under changing climate futures – through collaborative engagement, planning and action that develops the adaptive capacity of key roleplayers and stakeholders. The innovation is around making IWRM more ‘accessible’ through approaches that build custodianship and collective action over the catchment’s water resources. This requires greater dialogue, enhanced catchment literacy together with participation in collaborative, systemic practices that facilitate learning-in-action

All of the work described in the projects below are embedded – or institutionalized- through our focus on governance. This is because although tools and models are important aspects of IWRM, they are only as good as the governance system within which they are embedded. They need to be appropriate and tenable for the local context. Their practical application has been tested through the emergency de Hoop releases work in late 2016 and this will continue in 2017. Thus our work will focus on:

  1. Ensuring that systemic approaches for IWRM and CCA are embedded in key networks (LOROC, OLLI, CMF, Ara-Sul )
  2. Support for enhanced collaboration regarding IWRM between South Africa and Mozambique.

Training and mentorships

  1. A focus for AWARD has been on training and mentorship for key managers and roleplayers in the Integrated Decision-Support System AWARD is offering a 16-day in-house training course over four modules from May to November 2017. The course is designed for technical staff currently involved in integrated water resources management (IWRM) in the Olifants Catchment.
  2. Training for civil society in the basics of water resources protection

Partnerships and tools for rapid responses

AWARD has been focusing on the collaborative development and testing of protocols for responsiveness and action as part of an Integrated decision- Support System (IDSS) for compliance and early warning. An example of this has been efforts to ensure continued flows in the lower Olifants during the drought of 2016

Stakeholder Forums and Networking

This has involved engaging with various forums for collaboration and discussion on water resources management. A number of forums in particular are pivotal:

  • Support for the Catchment Management Forums as platforms for stakeholder engagement largely through the support for the development of the CMF Charters and Charter Guidelines.
  • In this regard AWARD has been instrumental in helping to and institutionalise ways of ensuring meaningful participation in Catchment Management Forums through the development of Guidelines for the development of CMF Charters and through assisting forums with the development of their specific charters. We are currently working with the DWS and stakeholders in the development of Charters for all sub catchments of the Olifants catchment. You can download the Guideline and Template for Charters here.
  • The OLLI (Olifants Letaba Luvuvhu and Inkomati Forum convened by DWS to support sharing and networking) which meets quarterly to share information on the aforementioned catchments and the newly-established LOROC (Lower Olifants River Operations Committee).
  • LOROC includes water service providers (e.g. Lepelle Northern Water), DWS, irrigation water users, municipalities, SANParks and Ara-Sul in Mozambique. This committee meets bi-monthly to discuss the management of river flow and dam conditions in the Olifants Catchment in response to the drought conditions.
  • At both of these and others (e.g. the WRC dialogue 2014; Water Ecosystems 2015; the Integrated water Quality Symposium 2015; Inland Waters) AWARD has presented progress reports providing insights into water availability and water quality for the catchment; an overview of changes to the flow regime over four decades; discussions of the IDSS; a real-time flow tracker for key gauge points along the Olifants River (South Africa) with a focus on compliance with the Ecological Reserve .

Support for near real-time river monitoring:

AWARD also supports DWS and SanParks in monitoring river flows. For example, we visit to Oxford Bridge (B7H007) along the Phalaborwa-Hoedspruit road to take water levels at weekly intervals in support of DWS hydrology staff in Pretoria.

Supporting the need for real-time data loggers

As part of calibrating a system to monitor flow and water quality and so as to ensure high quality and reliable outcomes for wider use by the OCMA and others, AWARD has installed data loggers for flow and water quality at key sites in the Selati and lower Olifants River. This is because data needs to be verified in real time but, as has been noted nation-wide, the gauges often malfunction due to operation and maintenance challenges

With support from USAID, and collaboration with DWS and SANParks, the following data loggers have been installed at the following sites:

  • Liverpool Weir (B7H009; Olifants mainstem, escarpment foothills). This will be Installed on completion of weir
  • Oxford Weir (B7H007, Olifants mainstem) (Installed)
  • Mamba Weir (B7H015, KNP below Olifants-Selati confluence) (Installed)
  • Balule Weir (B7H026; KNP before Mozambique border) (Installed)

We have a water quality gauge as well as the discharge data logger at:

  • Mamba Weir (B7H015)(Installed)