uMhlathuze, South Africa

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Innovative and Collaborative Solution

How does the initiative show evidence of feasibility, including on-going financial and logistical support?

EDTEA that is reliant of support at local, i.e., municipal level, has in place Guidelines for the Implementation of Project Advisory Committees. Various control measures, based on sound project and programme management principles, are adhered to that contribute to ensuring financial and logistical support.  Reference is also made to the EDTEA guidelines, norms and standards document. 
Financial support for the process is the outcome of efforts from the uWASP that resulted in the EDTEA allocating R2 000 000 for the alien invasive programme over a period of years. The relevant MOU is attached for reference.

Whereas the MOU is evidence of government support, very important private sector support is evident from Mondi.  Government and private sector partnerships are key for feasibility and form the evidence both spheres support the process.

This programme is expected to create 164 job opportunities for local residence living in close proximity to the prioritized/identified areas. The Invasive Alien Species Programme (IASP) is implemented following a labour-intensive model which is informed by the National Expanded Public Works (EPWP) guidelines.   Local resident’s involvement, training and support for a process are also critical for feasibility.

Furthermore, operational factors in the control programme for alien weeds and invader vegetation are adding to the feasibility as the following procedure is followed; (1) Initial control to reduce existing populations, (2) Follow-up control whereby seedlings, root suckers and coppice growth are controlled, (3) annual maintenance control to prevent re-occurrences of growth and (4) rehabilitation and vegetation of affected areas.

In what ways is the initiative innovative?

Many AIP removal projects in the catchment are implemented in isolation of each other by various agents. These projects had varying degrees of successes but there are still large areas of infestation – estimated around 13 653ha.

The uWASP has recognized that an overarching strategy on AIP control would ensure better coordination and collaboration.  The process is now a co-ordinated approach to assist in preventing the establishment of new AIPs and the effective control of existing. The co-ordinated AIP management approach included planning and preparation; budgeting for labour, equipment/tools, Herbicides, PPEs and Fuel; and AIP control methods including prevention, mechanical-, chemical-, cultural control and biological control and monitoring.

The MoU ensures that this project yields both socio-economic and environmental benefits.  The Department donated R2 000 000.00 to facilitate the appointment of EPWP Contractors.
AIP clearing uses an operational planning standard as set out by the EDTEA in their Norms and Standards. For every targeted area, a detailed map is provided which gives an overview of every project and its activities.  The map indicates boundaries, quaternary catchment units, bio-control sites etc. Prior to clearing the Project Managers need to demonstrate their understanding of Invasive Alien Species, and the Regional Strategic plan. Employees are trained prior to any work done. Actual areas that are cleared are verified and recorded in a spreadsheet. All vegetation that is cleared is mapped and recorded as Natural Biological Alien (NBAL) units, with their own NBAL unique number, and the density, method, and Herbicides used.

How is the initiative supported by collaborative working across disciplines and sectors?          

There are four focal areas of UWaSP that align with the mandate of the city:

  1. Integrated Waste Resource Management
  2. Water Demand Management
  3. Customer Relations Management
  4. Climate Change

The following organizations are working in collaboration with one another.

  • Mhlathuze Water
  • Working for Water
  • The District Municipality
  • The Zululand Chamber of Commerce
  • uMhlathuze Agriculture Irrigators Forum
  • Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone
  • The South African Sugar Association
  • The various water use associations and farmers associations present in the catchment.

A partnership such as this, that brings together private and public sector Partners, and is being coordinated by a local and international partnership manager, has gone a long way in ensuring that the objectives set out by the Parties are carried out, and that they go above and beyond just water stewardship practices.

Mondi and the WWF South Africa, as one of the Partners in the water stewardship programme, have taken on projects that promote the adoption of water stewardship practices in forestry and agriculture in an effort to strengthen water security in the uMhlathuze catchment.  Together they formed the WWF-Mondi Water Stewardship Partnership (WWF-MWSP) which to date has seen some projects being undertaken in the uMgeni River catchment, promoting resilience thinking, creating shared value, and social learning through a Resilient Landscape Approach.  In Phase 2 they targeted the uMhlathuze river catchment since Mondi, as a paper manufacturing company, has plantation forestry operations in the upper and lower areas of the uMhlathuze catchment and a packaging paper mill in Richards Bay (Mondi, 2022).

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of community support?          

Democratically elected and representative Project Advisory Committees (PAC) are a key component for the implementation and management of Invasive Alien Species Programme projects. PAC members serve in an advisory capacity and strive to achieve sufficient consensus among all stakeholders as per the Guidelines for the Project Advisory Committees attached.  The PAC (1) serves the interest of the Invasive Alien Species Programme by communicating the aims of the Invasive Alien Species Programme with local partners/stakeholders; (2) it serves in an advisory capacity, (3) aims to ensure that the poorest of the poor benefit, (4) is committed to transparency and open communication, (5) facilitates with problem solving in sorting out community social issues that may negatively impact on the Invasive Alien Species Programme, (6) has to ensure local community participation based on demographic practises etc.  It is clear from these PAC guidelines that there is total commitment and understanding of the importance of community consultation and support. The following role-players are members of the PAC; Traditional Leadership, Local Ward Councillors, Municipality, OSS/War Room, Development Committee, relevant NGOs, and the Department (EDTEA).

OSS stands for Operation Sukuma Sakhe (“stand up and build”) and is a call and effort for the people of KwaZulu-Natal to overcome the issues that are destroying communities such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse, HIV, and tuberculosis.  The operating procedures, norms and standards embed the importance of environmental awareness and education, employment creation and the importance to overall impressions – all that are critical to foster community support.