The Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL) methodology is based on a participatory process to enable villagers and water services practitioners to gain a clearer understanding of water resources, multiple uses of water, and how these can be developed to improve water-using livelihoods. To apply this theoretical approach in practice, a set of steps and learning support materials are being developed for wider sharing.
Overview of the SWELL Methodology
The application of SWELL requires evidence to be gathered prior to planning, which can be achieved in three sequential steps:
Initially it is important to gather information relating to specific public and private activities of the constituencies concerned. It is important to understand:
• How people generate or receive income and their expenditures;
• Whether they grow food would influence this as food could supplement dietary needs and increase income if sold commercially, and thus needs to be assessed;
• It is also important to find out what their domestic activities are.
In the second step one would need to identify the assets that allow these activities to take place. Some may seem obvious, such as a communal tap for drinking, while others may seem more obscure and need to be traced by in depth interviews.
For example, people often explain how they get food from a community. This may consist of complex social networking and informal engagement, which is none the less just as important as mainstream formal mechanisms (such as pension grants) for livelihood strategies.
The shocks and stresses that occur in vulnerable social systems affect certain individuals severely. The causes of these are important in assessing which facilities would increase water security for people in a specific context. As our concern with water is linked to food production and consumption, and thus aims to primarily develop solutions for basic human requirements first in periods of extreme scarcity. What technologies and interventions would reduce the risk of shortages of basic needs?
Based on the above steps during research, one must also consider the possible risks of an intervention by authorities and stakeholders. It is thus important to find out how particular technologies affect the embedded livelihoods and activities of groups who are on the receiving end of services.
SWELL Learning Support Materials (LSM)
By 2006 SWELL learning support materials were being refined and developed, based on the experience of applying the SWELL approach in Bushbuckridge.
- SWELL UNIT 1
The first unit in (SWELL UNIT 1: Water and Livelihood Security) a series of learning materials, designed and produced to support joint learning and planning, sets out to introduce the set of concepts underlying the SWELL approach and explain the relevance to villagers and those who work with people to improve their access to and use of water.
Along with examples of applying these ideas in Bushbuckridge, sections include exercises for joint reflection that are intended for facilitation of collective processes.
Figure 1: The role of Water in people’s Livelihoods
Figure 2: Looking at Water Security
- SWELL UNIT 2 will be finalised in 2008.