Over the past decades, integrated water resource management (IWRM) has gained prominence as a powerful water management concept. It is an idea that promotes the equitable and sustainable management of a catchment by all who live and share its waters. The complexities of realising IWRM are emerging within the context of South Africa – and this makes for fascinating and important work.

In addition, each river-sharing community faces a similar set of needs and challenges in its attempts to balance social development imperatives with management for resource sustainability. With researchers, partner organisations and communities, we develop and test new and appropriate ways of managing water to address water security issues of wise resource management and equitable allocation in catchment areas.

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Our systemic, multidisciplinary approach means that practical interventions can be designed out of sound and comprehensive evidence, drawing on a variety of discourses, including climate change, ecosystems services linked to livelihood security, socio-ecological systems and their drivers as well as institutional functioning and governance.

While access to water remains a primary issue in South Africa, we do have some of the best water policy in the world. Some of our work at AWARD involves testing these policies in practice and developing new and appropriate ways of managing water to address water security issues around wise resource management and equitable allocation in the of water resources.

Our approach includes:

• research based enquiry about implementation
• writing up and sharing our learning and findings
• influencing and supporting institutions responsible for policy and implementation,
• working with approaches that impact on the livelihoods of the poorest

We also work to bridge the gap between environmental and social issues and ensure that water-based eco-systems can be managed in a sustainable manner. Specifically, we look at water security issues and wise and equitable resource management that balances human and natural systems in an equitable way.

This involves:

• advancing theories about the dynamics of complex adaptive systems
• helping to test these theories
• developing guidelines and principles to assess or understand the resilience of natural systems in the context of a developing world.
• working on policy and management tools that support sustainable development


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Sunsetview Office Park
Corner Koedoe and Buffel Streets
South Africa

Phone number:
+27 (0)15 7930145