Water Supply (SWELL Programme)
(Please note that many documents will refer to Ward 16, however, that name has now been changed to Ward 33)
Conventional water systems
Conventional water supply systems are typically designed for basic “domestic” (drinking, cooking, and bathing) needs only. When people try to use these systems for their other livelihood needs uses (e.g. gardening, brick making, beer brewing), these systems may break or be ‘redesigned’ by villagers themselves, resulting in overload and failure. Equally a system designed for irrigation may be drawn upon for domestic purposes, for which it was not designed.
Many formal water services only consider one single, surface water source, whereas rainwater or groundwater could provide an alternative or supplementary supply. Matching locally available water resources with the multiple needs people have, and making best use of appropriate technology seldom informs water systems design.
Reasons for this are that various sectors are involved in water development and management, and each is responsible for meeting only their sectoral demands. Despite calls for integrated planning and cooperative governance, sectors do not easily coordinate their activities. Indeed sectors are frequently in conflict regarding water prioritisation.
The result is that systems are developed in such a way that people’s needs are not met, and multiple sources and uses are not integrated. This leads to reduced water security, which reduces the scope of strategies for people to sustain or enhance their livelihoods. The consequence is that poor people’s livelihoods become more vulnerable.
In recognizing this state of affairs, an approach that aims to create a better means by which to assist in transforming these processes into more effective water service delivery systems was developed. This approach is called SWELL
Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL)
In the broader developmental context, water supply for people living in poverty is most commonly associated with their basic domestic needs. Many of those living in Bushbuckridge and other rural areas of South Africa require sufficient water supplies for distinct types of domestic and productive needs and activities (See Perez de Mendiguren and Mabelane, 2001). Achieving more appropriate water security at village level requires a more holistic and integrated approach in planning and acting for water delivery.
The aim of the Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL) methodology was to develop an alternative to the standardized model for water supply (see Maluleke et al., 2005a). SWELL was originally piloted in Ward 16, now known as Ward 33 in Bushbuckridge local municipality in partnership with government departments, members of the recipient communities, and support agencies (see Maluleke et al., 2005b). All stakeholders actively participated in developing both a common vision and the practical framework to guide communities and external agencies to better secure and manage water supply and productive use.
The SWELL Programme
The Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL) programme seeks 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.
Central to the SWELL Programme is holistic and integrated planning practices through the IDP (Integrated Development Plan) and WSDP (Water Services Development Plan) frameworks of the local municipality. In order to address water and livelihood security of poor and vulnerable people, the SWELL Programme focuses its effort on three sub-themes, i.e. Multiple Use Systems, Vulnerability and Rainwater Harvesting (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The SWELL Programme
This Theme focuses on multiple livelihood strategies that are dependent on multiple sources of water and can make a meaningful contribution to poverty reduction through improving food security, nutrition and income generation activities. Growing evidence shows that multiple water sources which support multiple activities are key to ensuring multiple benefits in the livelihoods of people.
Water related needs of most vulnerable households in the villages can only be understood if a specific effort is made to identify and engage them. Only then can we respond to these needs and the challenges which they expose, AWARD and municipal and government departments who have the responsibility to respond to vulnerable people through policies and programmes should work together in defining and refining how policies can be implemented to focus on vulnerable individuals and households as a central approach to development.
Rain water harvesting has the potential to improve the water security of households in the Sand River Catchment. This would move towards improving health and food security. The programme explores the use of rain water harvesting as a supplementary water source in order to improve water management and as a means to improve supply, particularly for relatively vulnerable household members.
The entire SWELL programme aims to help secure water for communities in various many ways. Since the development of this programme all subsequent projects under water services planning and implementation must subscribe to SWELL Principles. This theme focuses on the links between water services planning and water resources.