Integrated Water Resource Management


Thematic area 2: Support for long-term water security and water resources protection for transboundary IWRM in the Olifants Basin

Water resources underpin every part of peoples’ livelihoods through the goods and services that are provided to society and yet is still not given the profile that such a strategic resource merits. Nowhere is this more true than in the Olifants Basin where decades of piecemeal development and management have meant that we now live in a catchment that is severely degraded with the exception of a few refuge tributaries such as the Wilge and Blyde Rivers. Major changes to the water quality, flow regime and riparian zone have severely compromised aquatic resilience, ecosystem services and hence livelihoods and human well-being.

The potential climate change impacts, which are now better understood from the RESILIM-O work, will greatly exacerbate this vulnerability. Despite the importance of aquatic biodiversity as the foundation for ecosystem goods and services, all indications are that both water quality and quantity of the catchment continue to deteriorate under drivers of change such as mining, waste-water treatment works, industry, urbanization, the spread of alien invasive plants and agriculture. Secondly, climate change is likely to profoundly affect water resources as the predicted increasing temperatures affect water storage (including in the soil) through evapotranspiration and an increase in extreme events (floods and droughts).AWARD strongly supports the need for a systemic basin-wide approach to water resources governance.It is this commitment that underpins our transboundary approach, be it across administrative, political, social or economic “boundaries”. Such a systemic approach recognizes the interconnected nature of socio-political, environmental and technical domains where residents play a central role in shaping the future and the custodianship of their own water resources. Not only is a strong stakeholder-centred process key but this needs to be supported by a robust and flexible enabling environment where good scientific and technical inputs support a learning and adaptive management and governance process. We need to accept that uncertainty is a feature of our lives. Ironically, increasing uncertainty – especially through climate change – is one of the few certainties we can count on. Given this, planning and acting in an environment that embraces learning and feedbacks is seen as the only way to navigate increasingly uncertain futures. For this reason we place a strong emphasis on a strategic adaptive management through systemic, social learning processes. (link Charles CHAT page)
Thus with regard to the sustainability of the Olifant’s water resources, AWARD’s work aims to enhance longterm water security and reduce (climate) vulnerability by supporting informed adaptation strategies and practices for transboundary Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Olifants River Basin.

Focusing on long-term sustainability and resilience, support for the emerging governance of the Olifants Basin is being undertaken through

Support for systemic and integrated water resources governance

Without a viable governance system, achieving
water resources protection within..


Development of an integrated decision-support system

As noted, AWARD supports the development of
holistic basin-wide management for the Olifants River Catchment. Ensuring that


Mobilising custodianship for water resources protection

Understanding multiple systemic impacts through participatory group “modelling”


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