uMhlathuze, South Africa

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Photo by the National Business Initiative

Initiative: uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership

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Country:South Africa
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The city of uMhlathuze is on the North-East coast of the Province of KwaZulu Natal, about 180kms North-East of Durban.  The uMhlathuze land area covers 123 359ha and incorporates rural areas.  The 2016 number of households was 110 503.  There are a number of natural and man-made phenomenon’s. The area is inundated with a system of wetlands and natural water features.

Our entry is on the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWaSP).  UWaSP is a partnership that was catalysed by a major drought that was experienced in the uMhlathuze region in 2016.  The major dam serving the region, Goedertrouw Dam, was at 18.52% in August 2016.  UWaSP was formalized in 2016 through a Letter of Intent, which was aimed at ensuring water availability for residential and industrial use, securing sustainable livelihood and environmental integrity of eco-systems in uMhlathuze.  UWaSP is a partnership between the following organizations/stakeholders:

  • GIZ’s International Water Stewardship Programme (GIZ-IWaSP)
  • Department of Water and Sanitation
  • Grindrod
  • Mondi
  • National Business Initiative
  • Proto-CMA Pongola-uMzimkulu
  • Richards Bay Minerals
  • Strategic Water Partners Network – South Africa
  • Tongaat Hulett
  • Transnet 
  • World Wide Fund South Africa

The partnership aims to:

  1. Identify short-term measures to improve water security for businesses, industries, forestry and agriculture producers, and communities.
  2. Engage in a process to identify and implement medium to long-term measures affecting the entire catchment area catering to interconnectedness of upstream and downstream users and the required water resource management approaches.
  3. Support existing water stewardships.
  4. Engagement with all relevant landowners and community members, civil society organizations, industries, and other water users.

The uMhlathuze River Catchment is on the north-east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 180kms north of Durban. The catchment covers 4209km2 starting in the Babanango Hills in the west, and southeast to the Goedertrouw Dam in the upper-mid catchment.  The catchment is bounded by the Mfolozi catchment in the north and the Lower Thukela, uMlalazi and Amatikhulu in the south.  Agriculture is the biggest water user, followed closely by the urban and industrial usage of the city of uMhlathuze.

The catchment is a high-risk catchment in terms of water-related issues. The uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP) has been established and has developed projects around this area. Water scarcity is the top risk, and many other risks are linked to this scarcity. Water quality is also a concern in the lower catchment, and better regulation and monitoring is needed.

Water scarcity is halting development and could result in large industries and mining operations moving out of the area. Agriculture is a significant employer of the poorer communities in the catchment, and loss of financial viability due to water issues would result in job loss and poverty. 

There are large areas of alien vegetation in the catchment.

The Goedertrouw Dam is the second largest dam in KwaZulu-Natal, and is set in the uMhlathuze Valley.  The drought that occurred in 2016 saw a drastic reduction in the level of the dam.