German research project on sustainable water system in South Africa
Within the project „Integrated Water Resource Management“ (IWRM) German scientists develop a concept for sustainable water management in the area of the Olifant river in northern South Africa. Until 2015, the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds the recently started second phase with 3.6 million Euro.
Enlarge image The Olifant river (© M. Bombeck)
People depending on the Olifant river not only face the problems of water shortages every year but also have to deal with strongly polluted parts.
A team of German scientists wants to tackle these problems in the Olifant's basin. The IWRM project is implemented in close co-operation of three academic partners (IEEM/Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management at the University Witten/Herdecke gGmbH, the centre for Development Research at the University Bonn and the chair for Environmental Engineering and Ecology at the Ruhr University Bochum) and seven partners from industry. The IEEM has conducted similar projects on water management in Armenia, Indonesia, Jordan and Peru in the last years. The University of Pretoria as well as local South African institutions will also be involved in the project.
During the IWRM project's first phase between 2006 and 2009, different basic concepts to solve the Olifant river's water problems were generated. The current second phase focusses on the Water Intervention Module (WIM) and on the economic and institutional conditions for a successful water system.
Enlarge image domestic water supply in rural areas (© T. Walter)
Therefore, working relations and value-chains in the water sector will be analysed and the results will be applied to local structures in South Africa. IWRM is thus not only about technology but also about the inclusion of local stakeholders and about financial impetus for stewardship of water.
The guiding principles to assure the success of the IWRM in South Africa are „incentive engineering“ and „ownership“. The first notion describes the achievement of a sustainable water system by the application of market principles. Thus, financial incentives are proposed for establishing the water management in the local economic process in the long-term. At this point, the concept of „ownership“ applies. It refers to the inclusion of the local community, its institutions and representatives in the IWRM project. For enduring results people must identify with the project and take an active part in it.