Project Countries

South Africa

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IWaSP partnership efforts in South Africa indirectly improved water security for 300,000 people in 2015
Over EUR250,000 was leveraged for partnerships from the private sector and over EUR500,000 from government departments
IWaSP South Africa was the lead organiser of the first ever regional water stewardship conference to be held in South Africa, significantly raising the understanding of and interest in water stewardship in the region

South Africa’s political stability, economic growth, stable food production and electricity generation capacity directly impact on the welfare of its neighbouring countries. One natural element poses a growing threat to the country’s performance in these critical fields: water. South Africa is a water-scarce country that relies heavily on water sources outside its borders. It has exemplary legislation for water resources management, but implementation thereof has been challenging. The consequences of this are being felt severely in the current drought situation and are threatening food stability across the region.

Approach and Objectives

The strategy of the International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP) in South Africa is to:

  • Implement partnerships that will improve knowledge on private-sector collaboration and deliver innovative cooperation that could be applied at pan-African level
  • Improve water security for 230,000 South Africans by 2018
  • Help shape a conducive policy environment for water stewardship in South Africa, the SADC region and beyond
  • Implement scalable collaborative projects that reduce water risk in the relevant catchments that are replicable in other catchments




2015 Partnerships

Partnership name

Sector/thematic area


Support to the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN)

Multi-sector cooperation

2014 – 2016

Improving water balance in the Southern Cape hops-growing region

Food and beverages

2014 – 2016

Water stewardship in the Upper Breede River Catchment in the Western Cape Province


2015 – 2016

Securing Port Elizabeth’s water through landscape restoration and water stewardship


2015 – 2017

Water-loss reduction in Metsimaholo Local Municipality


2015 - 2016

Water Stewardship in the Upper Breede Catchment is a partnership between Marks & Spencer, IWaSP, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) and Woolworths to reduce water risks in one of the most important deciduous fruit-growing regions in the country. The partnership is testing the AWS Standard on farm-level and local residents are being empowered through a community-driven environmental education programme. As South Africa’s first functional catchment management agency (CMA), BGCMA serves as an example for emerging CMAs.

The partnership ‘Water stewardship through landscape restoration and water stewardship in the Port Elizabeth catchments’ aims to improve water security for this important industrial hub through large-scale restoration of degraded land in the three catchments that provide 70% of the city’s water. It also seeks to improve the capacity of local municipalities for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. Santam (insurer), Living Lands (NGO), Commonland (foundation), the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), the Tsitsikamma-Mzimvubu CMA and IWaSP are project partners.

IWaSP entered into a partnership, ‘Water stewardship in the hopsgrowing areas of George and Oudtshoorn’, with South African Breweries, WWF and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to improve the water balance around the George and Oudtshoorn areas in the Southern Cape. SAB sources its hops – a water-intensive crop – from this water-stressed area. Invasive trees in mountainous and riparian areas, unmonitored groundwater use and lack of coordination in the catchment are the main project interventions.

The partnership ‘Water-loss reduction in Metsimaholo Local Municipality (LM)’ focuses on reducing water losses in this municipality, situated in the International Vaal/Orange-Senqu catchment.  Actions include a baseline assessment to determine current losses, community outreach measures and leakage repair on bulk and household infrastructure. Project partners are Sasol, Metsimaholo LM, DWS and IWaSP. This project will provide insights into financing options for water-loss reduction, which can serve as reference for other countries.

IWaSP has been supporting the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) since 2014. The SWPN is a coordination platform for companies, government and civil society to collectively find solutions for the country’s most pressing water challenges. Focal areas are agricultural supply chains, mine and wastewater management, water conservation and leakage reduction, skills development, sanitation and water stewardship. Partners include SABMiller, DWS, DEA, 2030 Water Resources Group, ABSA bank, Anglo American, South32, Coca-Cola, Eskom, Exxaro, Nestlé, Sasol, Rand Water, Santam, Unilever, WWF and IWaSP.


Achievements to Date

Between January 2014 and December 2015, these partnerships benefitted over 300,000 people indirectly and 10,000 directly. In 2015, more than EUR250,000 was leveraged from the private sector and over EUR500,000 from the public sector to support ongoing and new partnerships. In October 2015, IWaSP with its partners the SWPN and the National Business Initiative (NBI) co-hosted the first ever regional conference on water stewardship, where lessons from ongoing projects were shared and challenges around stewardship debated. The conference attracted 200 participants from over 15 countries and helped to entrench the concept of water stewardship amongst important regional companies and governments.

Challenges and Outlook

IWaSP South Africa continually works to ensure the sustainability of themeasures currently ongoing in the above-mentioned partnerships, to expand existing partnerships and to transfer lessons learnt between the projects. It is also scoping new potential partnerships that could benefit as many people as possible , attract considerable private and public sector contributions and that could be replicated in other IWaSP countries and beyond.

Country Set-up

In South Africa, IWaSP is anchored in the Centre for Cooperation with the Private Sector (CCPS) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, an umbrella unit of different programmes which aims to promote cooperation with the private sector. It is based at the GIZ office in Pretoria.

IWaSP is an international water security programme which combines global best practices in water stewardship with local know-how. Currently active in nine countries, the seven-year programme (2013-2019) facilitates partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society to address shared water risks, while improving stakeholders’ use and management of water and building their capacity to develop their own solutions. GIZ manages IWaSP on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID).


Further Information on South Africa’s Water Resources

Water is scare in South Africa. The country has a highly variable climate and one of the lowest run-offs of surface water (from rain, snowmelt etc.) in the world. This situation is likely to worsen due to the effects of climate change. Based on studies by the 2030 Water Resources Group, it is projected that South Africa will have 17% less water than it needs to meet all water demands by as early as 2030. Failing water infrastructure, as well as growing demand and competing uses of the resource, mean that adequate supply can only be sustained if immediate actions are taken. South Africa is currently experiencing a major drought, compromising water availability and food supplies far beyond national borders. The drought is projected to last for the next five to 10 years.

Added to these challenges, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the custodians of the country’s water resources, must ensure fair access to water resources in accordance with its constitutional requirements, while also maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and their services. The Department’s operations are guided by the National Water Act and the National Water Resource Strategy II, which aims to achieve fair access to water. Municipalities, in turn, are in charge of providing local water services.

As significant water users, major industries such as energy, mining, agriculture and manufacturing depend heavily on a well-functioning water management system, yet some are also big polluters. The private sector is therefore a key stakeholder in water resources management and should be involved in water infrastructure planning and development.



News Coverage on the Drought in Southern Africa
Contact Information

Dr Nicole Kranz
Hatfield Gardens Office Park Block C,
333 Grosvenor Street, Hatfield, Pretoria 0028