The Shared Rivers Initiative
The Shared Rivers Initiative focused on collective action for improved water resource management. Initiated in 2007, this study was designed to answer one central question: ‘What factors enable or constrain achieving environmental flows in the lowveld rivers?”. By understanding theses underlying factors, a meaningful and tenable supportive programme drawing on research and practice could be designed and implemented, resulting in real change.
The study looked at six major rivers in the South African lowveld: the Luvuvhu, Letaba, Olifants, Sabie-Sand, Crocodile and Komati Rivers. In South Africa these rivers and their catchments comprise three Water Management Areas (WMA): the Luvuvhu/ Letaba WMA in the north, the Olifants WMAs in the central region, and the Inkomati WMA, which comprises the Sabie-Sand, Crocodile and Komati Rivers in the south.
All six rivers contribute to international watercourses, the Limpopo and Incomati basins.
A number of cases of unlawful use were raised in each catchment. All of the sub-catchments are bedevilled by major issues with regard to municipal expansion and effluent control. The expansion of mining in the Komati, Crocodile and the Olifants is problematic.
But while evidence of non-compliance was found in each of the eight rivers examined, the study means that developments for a catchment-based water resources management systems can benefit from this insight, with improved regulation and enforcement.
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