The multiple uses of water (mus) approach to water services provision aims to meet people’s different water needs in an integrated way. This approach has been gaining broad recognition in South Africa over the last few years, expressed in a range of initiatives in terms of policy, research, implementation and advocacy. In 2005 a
national seminar was held in which these initiatives were mapped out. One of the concerns raised was that local government is key to implementation, but they have so far been absent from the discussions about mus. Therefore, this year the seminar was convened by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), the MUS (Multiple Use Systems) project, in partnership with WIN-SA (the Water Information Network of South Africa) and SALGA (the South African Local Government Association), with the objective to look into implications for local government implementation of the mus approach. This particularly revolved around the guidelines for local government implementation of multiple use water services that DWAF is developing. Participants came from a cross-section of institutions: national government departments, provincial DWAF offices and local government, research institutions, NGOs and consultancies. This report provides the key points of discussion of the seminar.
The importance of mus to realising goals of addressing poverty through water was emphasized. However there are still no coherent, agreed upon, national definitions of multiple uses of water, which give clarity while providing flexibility. It is agreed that livelihoods and Local Economic Development (LED) are at the heart of mus, and that
the boundaries of that cannot be tightly set. Definitions can become an academic discussion, but are important as they have implications for mandates, and for accounting and funding purposes. Mapping of the different funding streams made it clear that, mostly, combinations of such streams will be needed to implement mus.
This is complicated, as the entities who administer them operate at different levels, with different procedures. Integrated Development Plans, in theory, provide a mechanism for alignment between those, but in practice IDP processes are weak. IDPs could be the basis for assessing demand and needs for mus, considering supply issues, and enabling cooperative governance. Combining piped water supply with alternative water sources, especially rainwater harvesting, seem to provide the most practical way forward. The lack of capacity at municipal level and how this may limit the implementation of mus, was raised as a concern. On the other hand, the integrated approach required for mus may also be an opportunity to overcome these problems.
A range of activities were proposed in terms of a way forward. Communication and advocacy for the concept was recommended, targeted at senior decision makers at DPLG and SALGA, as well as at local government level. The guidelines need further elaboration, especially in terms of the mapping of financing streams, and the links with IDP processes. At the same time, piloting of the guidelines should start at municipal level. Such piloting could seek two approaches – one with funding allocated to support it, another working within the reality of the existing funding streams. Pilots could provide the nexus for further collective learning, and for including local government more actively in the further development of the guideline, and in making policy recommendations that flow from learning what is needed to enable the realisation of this approach. Alignment with other initiatives was recommended, the piloting of rain water harvesting being highlighted.
Providing water services for multiple uses, often requires a change in the way intermediate level institutions, such as local government, sector departments and NGOs, plan and implement water supply. Above all, it requires the capacity for integrated planning to meet people’s multiple livelihoods needs, and the capacity to follow a participatory approach. Many intermediate level institutions currently lack such capacities.
In Bushbuckridge, South Africa, it has been tried to promote the multiple use approach among intermediate level institutions through a programme called SWELL (Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods). A key element of the programme was to follow a multi-stakeholder approach, involving community structures and intermediate level agencies in bottom-up integrated planning for multiple uses, with the view to base the mus approach within local government reality, and to strengthen the capacity of the stakeholders involved. This report details the approach followed, and tries to evaluate the changes in capacity that have occurred.
An increase in understanding about multiple use services has been observed, as well as a positive attitude towards such services. Especially at field officer level, it is realised that current approaches of services delivery and ad-hoc planning do not lead to sustainable services or impacts in people’s livelihoods. However, this realisation doesn’t lead as of yet into changes in practices. One reason for that is that senior decision-makers haven’t been fully involved in the programme as hoped. This means that field staff often do not get the mandate to take lessons learnt forward. It also implies that the call for improved cooperative governance remains a call only. Giving actual shape to this promising concept only happens on paper. But, it must be said that the consolidation of institutional responsibilities in local government help in taking away the institutional confusion which in the past has given rise to so much finger pointing. Accountability mechanisms between communities, their representative structures and service providers are poor, and haven’t improved. The limited actual responsibility of community structures is a main reason for that.
Reflecting on the learning approach taken, future activities would need to seek a closer involvement of senior decisions makers, even though it is realised that this is difficult. Probably another important lesson has been the opportunity to link the findings from working at intermediate level with the engagement with national stakeholders. It is felt that the experiences from Bushbuckridge provide relevant practical limitations to implementing mus within local government. National agencies are in a position to support local authorities in this. Linking practical experiences to the national policy debate is therefore crucial.
Through regular meetings a local "learning alliance", comprising of various stakeholders, including community representatives and municipal staff monitors the progress of multiple use approaches to water in the Bushbuckridge area in South Africa. This file contains a report of such a monitoring meeting.
On the 24th of August 2005, a seminar was held in Pretoria, bringing together a number of major sector stakeholders around the topic of multiple uses of water.
The objective of the meeting was to map current initiatives around multiple uses of water, look for synergies and plan a way forward for improved information sharing between sector players.
The seminar showed that the concept of multiple uses of water is widely recognised and that indeed various organisations are working on it: in policy, research and implementation. However, there are still many questions on the approach to take to the issue and how to ensure that the approach is followed at local level. A number of issues for further debate has been identified.
The seminar left the participants with a general feeling that it was useful to learn about these different initiatives, and that it was due time to establish a learning platform.
Below is the report as well as the presentations given during the seminar.
J. Mtolo: an overview of Water for Growth and Development in South Africa
Water for Growth and Development signals a shift from earlier supply and demand driven approaches, through the period of concerted water service delivery to this sharply-focused response to current and future socio-economic demands and issues of water security. The new focus/thinking strongly emphasize the issue of “Bringing water to the forefront of development planning” which means that all economic and development planning must be influenced and guided by an assessment of water availability. A critical point for consideration is: Water is seldom the primary driver and catalyst of economic development in many instances; however, it can be a severe constraint to development initiatives in many parts of our country. Its availability, or potential availability, is therefore a crucial factor in all development planning initiatives and processes (whether local, regional / provincial or national) in the country. [authors abstract]
S. Mashicila: Evolving mechanisms to implement a range of small and large scale water supply infrastructure for households’ multiple water uses in South Africa
South Africa’s renewed commitment to poverty eradication is voiced in the water sector through the new Strategic Framework for Water for Sustainable Growth and Development. It recognises the catalytic role that water can play in poverty eradication through home- and village-based economic activity of poor households. This sets the table for the implementation of a range of conventional and less conventional infrastructure solutions of all sizes, to respond to people’s need for water for productive uses, and to the diversity of situations found in the South African context. Current institutional arrangements for water supply and management provides a basic framework within which such a range of infrastructure solutions could be implemented, provided some adaptations are made to consultation processes, design criteria and performance measurement. Sufficient attention to operation and maintenance of infrastructure is proving to be a key challenge. [authors abstract]
The multiple use services approach has been gaining recognition in South Africa over the last few years, expressed in a range of policy, research, implementation and advocacy initiatives. In 2005 a national seminar was held on the theme. One of the concerns raised was that local government is the key to implementation, but they had so far been rather absent from the discussions. In a follow-up to the 2005 seminar, a second seminar was convened by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) and the MUS (Multiple Use Systems) project in partnership with WIN-SA (the Water Information Network of South Africa) and SALGA (the South African Local Government Association) on 25 October 2006. The objective of the seminar was to look at the implications for local government implementation of the mus approach. This focused on the guidelines for local government implementation of multiple use water services that DWAF is developing. Participants came from a cross-section of institutions: national government departments, provincial DWAF offices, local government, research institutions, NGOs and consultancies.
The importance of mus to realising goals of addressing poverty through water was emphasised. However, there are still no coherent, agreed upon, national definitions of multiple uses of water, that give clarity while leaving room for flexibility. It is agreed that livelihoods and Local Economic Development (LED) are at the heart of mus, and that the boundaries of that cannot be tightly set. Definitions can become an academic discussion, but are important as they have implications for mandates and for accounting and funding. Mapping of the different funding streams need to be combined to implement mus. This is complicated, as the agencies who administer them operate at different levels and with different procedures. Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), in theory, provide a mechanism for alignment between various agencies and plans, but in practice IDP processes are sometimes weak. IDPs could be the basis for assessing demand and needs for mus, considering supply issues, and enabling cooperative governance. Combining piped water supply with alternative water sources, especially rainwater harvesting, seems to provide the most practical way forward in the South African context. The lack of capacity at municipal level and how this may limit the implementation of mus which is a new and more demanding approach was raised as a concern. On the other hand, the integrated approach required for mus may also be an opportunity to achieve more impact and reduce poverty.
A range of activities were proposed including strengthened communication and advocacy and continuing the work on the guidelines for local government, especially in the area of financing mechanisms. This should be accompanied by the piloting multiple use initiatives in the context of municipal service delivery plans.
At the advent of democracy in 1994, the ANC government seized the opportunity to formulate policies that could achieve an equitable and sustainable water resource use. Three National Acts were crucial in defining the working rules that dictated the institutional frameworks, as well as which stakeholders interacted over which resources and space;
(i) The National Water Act No. 36 of 1998 became the legal instrument for implementing the national water policy. The Act recognizes that "water is a natural resource that belongs to all people" and places the nation’s water resources in the public trusteeship of the National Government. This Act provides for the establishment of several statutory and non-statutory institutions in designated Water Management Areas and requires the formation of stakeholder participatory institutions, emphasizing the participation of previously disadvantaged rural communities. The Act outlines mechanisms for dealing with over-arching issues of water management across different types of uses and levels.
(ii) The Water Service Act of 1997 deals with water and sanitation services within delineated political administrative boundaries such as municipalities. This Act too provides for the establishment of several institutions that interface with water users, whether individual households (residential users) or industrial users. For instance it provides for the establishment of a Water Services Authority that regulates how water and sanitation services are provided and who provides them.
(iii) The Disaster Management Act of 2000 deals with the management of all manner of disasters including floods and droughts. While the National Water Act and the Water Services Act fall under the armpits of the National Department of Water Affairs (DWAF), the Disaster Management Act falls under the armpit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs. Public participation in disaster management at local levels is suggested to happen through ward committees, which lie in the lowest political voting boundaries.
In summary, this policy environment provides for separate institutional avenues for gaining access to water resources in general, to domestic water and sanitation services and to dealing with either excess water (floods) or moisture deficits (drought). In practice, such an environment requires that local communities understand the different institutional channels through which they can voice their concerns. Such multiple institutional environment is generally a source of frustration among community members as the Mthatha case below demonstrates.
In response to the National Water Act, two Catchment Management Forums (CMFs) emerged in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa during 1999. The Mthatha Catchment Management Forum (Mthatha CMF) emerged in Water Management Areas (WMA) 12 in the western end of the province (see Figure 1 on bottom page). It took responsibility for the overall management of the Mthatha catchment which is made up of three secondary catchments covering a total area of approximately 5500 km2 and a population of just over half million people of whom 91 percent are rural, living in small and remote villages.
Participation of poor rural communities in the CMF was taken seriously in the formation of both Forums. In Mthatha, in which the process received substantial financial and professional backup from DWAF, public and private media advertisement led to public consultation meetings and the inauguration of a management committee for the Forum. The nomination of a management committee was preceded with a workshop to identify crucial issues to be tackled by the Forum. Some crucial issues identified included the tackling of pollution of the MthathaRiver, domestic water supply needs for rural communities, tackling poverty and land degradation. Socio-economic statistics bear witness to the salience of these concerns; approximately 84 percent of households in the catchment earn less than two US dollars a month (DWAF 2002), the total area under irrigation is estimated at 293 hectares while there is potential in excess of 1200 hectares (DWAF 2002), while the economy of the catchment is dependent largely on livestock farming, with sheep and cattle farming providing a living for rural subsistence farmers, livestock water requirements are met mainly from the limited surface water sources, while substantial groundwater resources play a minor role. The catchment is generally under-developed and the area is characterised by a high degree of unemployment and high poverty levels. Constant outbreaks of cholera in the catchment is evidence of poor access to clean water by the majority of rural communities who depend, for their domestic needs, on water collected directly from the river.
Four years after the formation of the CMF, participation of local people in Forum activities became problematic with complete absence in most meetings of representatives from the 1055 communities that exist in the catchment. This was attributed to fact that the Forum did not address itself to several issues that were of concern to local people, one of which was the improvement of domestic water services to rural communities. The Forum on its part argued that such water concerns lay outside its jurisdiction. The Mthatha Forum, dominated by government and private stakeholder representatives, concerned itself with issues of generating a catchment management strategy and argued that the CMF was only a policy body with regards to water utilisation and quality issues and implementation role was a prerogative of municipalities and other related bodies.
The Kat CMF case study
About 350 kilometers to the west of Mthatha Catchment lies the KatRiverValley catchment falling in Water Management Area 15. The Kat Catchment Management Forum (Kat CMF) which emerged at about the same time as Mthatha became responsible for a catchment that extends approximately 80km north to south and covers an area of approximately 1700km2. It is characterised by a variety of land uses, ranging from export-oriented citrus farming and commercially oriented rangeland stock farming in the lower reaches of the catchment to community-based or small-scale agriculture and stock farming in the middle reaches of the catchment and commercial forestry in the north-western upper reaches (McMaster, 2002). The Kat catchment exhibits similar socio-economic conditions as those found in Mthatha catchment.
Unlike the Mthatha CMF, researchers from a nearby University facilitated the emergence of the Kat CMF.RhodesUniversity researchers undertook anthropological research that resulted into workshops in 17 villages from late 1999 to mid-2000. The aim of these workshops was to create environmental awareness (co-operative and responsible resource management). Upstream-downstream relationships between the villages was role-played and analysed. The awareness creation conducted through Participatory Rural Appraisal methods led to the build-up of the formation of the CMF in which broader issues relating to catchment management could be tackled. Since the focus of RhodesUniversity researchers’ activities was on the empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities, the CMF became dominated by a high representation of community members and the Forum is well rooted into the community structure of the rural KatRiver areas.
The Kat CMF, driven mainly by stakeholders from local communities has addressed itself to a wide range of issues since its inception;
- It has engaged the local municipality in improving domestic water services in rural communities through boreholes. Rather than leaving these issues to local municipal water service institutions, it has participated in the discussion of these concerns.
- Through its own initiative, it has accessed funds from the Department of Agriculture to implement a land regeneration project. The project employs local community members, a high percentage being women, to construct water traps across eroded slopes, burying the gullies with stones and planting fast growing plants in denuded landscapes as well as erecting fences around the excessively eroded areas to restrict movement of grazing animals. Sedimentation of the KatRiver from excessive soil erosion is a serious problem. Considering that majority of local people use water directly from the river, this project addresses a salient issue.
- It has networked and established useful links. One such bilateral relationship has been with Spiral Trust, an NGO concerned with personal transformation and social change. Through this association, workshops for capacity building in diverse skills including small business management have been held in the communities.
- It is engaging the Department of Agriculture to support groups of small-scale agricultural producers to start irrigation farming.
As result, the support and interest in the CMF among local people in the catchment is growing. Results from an informal survey in the catchment indicated that most local people new about the operations of the CMF specifically because of the land regeneration project which was providing an income to local people.
The two cases demonstrate that
- Institutional designs that involve the participation of local poor people require holistic approaches encompassing concerns from bucket to basin, from environment to poverty. Generally, if local community members are allowed or take responsibility to drive the management processes in multi-stakeholder participatory institutions, they are likely to address salient issues as the Kat CMF demonstrated, after all ‘ he who feels it, knows it’.
- While experts, through their policies, have segregated avenues through which local people could access and manage resources that support their livelihoods, local people have an integrated view of these concerns. ‘S upermarket institutions’ or ‘ one-stop- shop institutions’ that provide holistic approaches to local concerns could be the answer to complex local problems.
- When community members participate in water resource management by voicing their concerns, they also wish to act on those concerns. Mere dialogue is not sufficient in resolving domestic water concerns.
Specific recommendations for future work
It would be of special interest to study and document how the Kat CMF has been able to circumvent limitation placed on community driven multi-stakeholder institutions, which the Mthatha CMF failed to escape. This form of research could be achieved through a joint workshop between the Mthatha and Kat CMFs in which community stakeholders could engage stakeholders from government and private sector to discuss how productive water concerns at micro-level could be integrated into catchment level management plans. Such a workshop could provide the much-needed social learning among all participating stakeholders.
The author collected information for this case study between 2002 and 2004 as part of a PhD research study using ethnography as a research tool. In addition, an informal survey was conducted in both Mthatha and Kat catchment to establish household livelihood systems. The author is from Fort Cox College of Agriculture in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.
DWAF 2002. MtataRiver Catchment Management Strategy. Plan of Action. First Draft . Prepared by Ninham Shand in association with Goba Moahloli & Associates. Department of Water Affairs.
McMaster, A., 2002, GIS in Participatory Catchment Management: A Case Study in the Kat River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa. MSc. Thesis., RhodesUniversity.
 Catchment Management Forums are a form of multi-stakeholder platforms that deal with holistic water resource management and representing multiple economic sectors, ideally public, private and civil-society interests.
Included in the strategy published in September 2004 is the following discussion on water for productive livelihoods:
'"The objectives of the [National Water] Act are, among other things, to meet the basic human needs of present and future generations, to promote equitable access to water, and to redress the results of past racial and gender discrimination. The Department is committed to achieving these objectives, and particularly to ensuring that water management strategies contribute to the eradication of poverty.
Although significant progress has been made in addressing the backlogs in water services, the provision of water to meet basic human needs does not make allowance for water for income-generating activities.
Similarly, whilst prioritising allocations of water for emerging farmers and small grower forestry schemes, and revitalising defunct irrigation schemes has the potential to provide livelihoods for many people in rural areas, these do not address the needs of the large numbers of people who require water for small-scale activities such as, for instance, brick making, rearing poultry and growing produce for local sale. The quantities of water required are relatively small - research in small villages indicates that livelihoods can be significantly enhanced by the availability of 50 to 100 litres per household day.
Although Schedule 1 provides for the use of small quantities of water without the need for further administrative authorisation it is restricted to domestic uses such as food gardens and domestic stock watering. As the Act currently stands water use under Schedule 1 supports subsistence activities but does not allow water to be used for commercial purposes.
The requirements for water for small-scale uses in rural areas will be quantified during compulsory licensing (see below), and the Department will investigate ways of making secure and cost effective supplies of water available without placing unnecessary administrative burdens on the users.
The requirements for water need not necessarily be met via piped supplies or using water abstracted from rivers. Rainwater harvesting from roofs or other hardened surfaces, using tanks, small check dams or catchpits can supplement more conventional sources of supply, and more use can be made of groundwater. Soil moisture can be retained on cultivated land and infiltration can be increased by contouring or constructing other micro water retaining structures, which have limited effects on water resources or downstream users.
The Department will work closely with other government agencies, particularly agricultural extension services, and in partnerships with non-governmental organisations and the private sector to explore possible options and ensure that appropriate interventions are implemented.''