29 November 2016

Learning exchange

The establishment of catchment-based partnerships is an effective way of enhancing a network of collaborators, improving contact with local stakeholders, addressing landscape challenges, realising opportunities to work together and avoid duplication of work. Sound governance of such partnerships is important to manage expectations both within and outside of the partnerships, and commitment to this end will see partnerships continue to grow. Since the establishment of the successful uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme (UCPP) and uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP) various efforts have been made to bring these groups together for learning and sharing of lessons, experiences and strategies from each other. This is because of their remarkable progress and their achievements in addressing water security, biodiversity protection and conservation and other complex socio-economic challenges such as poverty alleviation and job creation.

This year the two partnerships came together for a learning exchange in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal. This is the second time the groups have met, after the first event was held in Matatiele in 2015 – courtesy of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). Each learning exchange has been held within the hosting catchment and was coupled with a field trip to witness the efforts and operations on the ground. This year’s exchange was held under the theme “Water governance and research trends” which reflects some of the areas that the UEIP are most effective at. The learning exchange looked into the role of catchment partnerships in collaborative water governance and management as well as the integrated socio-ecological systems, with coordinated catchment-wide research and implementation.

field trip, learning exchangeSouth Africa is a water scarce country, and because of the current drought, it is facing worse than usual water shortages with some areas, such as parts of KwaZulu-Natal, already declared disaster areas. According to John Dini, the UEIP co-chairperson, the fact that demand exceeded supply in the uMngeni catchment, and the realisation that engineering solutions were not adequately addressing this challenge, led to exploring ecological infrastructure as a possible alternative solution. Ecological infrastructure is able to supplement built infrastructure investments to improve water security in the catchment. He added that the efforts to augment supply through inter-basin transfers from other catchments are also a necessary attempt to meet water service demands in the catchment. His counterpart, Sinegugu Zukulu of the UCPP, acknowledged the value of the investment put into the uMzimvubu River catchment by the CEPF, which helped to establish the partnership. However, there is a great need to invest more funds and efforts to continue the good work done by both partnerships, and to help them meet ongoing challenges.

The exchange encouraged each partnership to continue to strengthen role in their respective catchments, their activities and networks of stakeholders. The learning exchange further played a crucial role in the two catchment partnerships committing to future co-operation and support to each other. The learning exchange took place at the Fern Hill Hotel and Conference Centre, Howick, KwaZulu-Natal from the 15th -16th November 2016 and it was well attended by various representatives from government to community-based organisations.

For more information about the two partnerships, please contact the following people:


Chairperson: Mr Sinegugu Zukulu - szukulu@conservation.org

Secretariat: Nicky McLeod - nicky@enviros.co.za


Chairperson: Sean O'Donoghue - Sean.O'Donoghue@durban.gov.za 

Secretariat: Pearl Gola - N.Gola@sanbi.org.za


Otherwise contact Kennedy Nemutamvuni at k.nemutamvuni@sanbi.org.za

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