South African city uMhlathuze nominated for the Green Economy Change Champions within Local Government Award

The City of uMhlathuze in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal province has been nominated as one of the five finalists for the “Green Economy Change Champions within Local Government Award” for the initiative on the use of drone technology to improve water management and assess non-revenue water. The aim of the awards is to showcase successful sustainability initiatives that have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented by municipalities across South Africa. The awards are jointly hosted by GreenCape, a non -for-profit organization that drives the widespread adoption of economically viable green economy solutions, and the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Why drone technology for improved water management?

The city was concerned about high unaccounted for water losses recorded for two suburbs within their water supply network. To this end, the leveraging of drone technology proved to be a viable and innovative solution to help the municipality assess the cause of the increased water demand and losses. Through financial support from NatuReS as part of a contribution to the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP), the city received a drone and had three of their municipal officials trained to obtain a drone license to operate it.

The use of drone technology in the two pilot suburbs revealed that the increase in population was the main driver for increased water demand, and that illegal and unbilled connections were the reason for the high unaccounted water losses. With the information obtained, the municipality can now understand the extent of water losses and improve water supply planning in the respective areas. Similarly, this allows them to deploy the right interventions for reducing demand and upgrading infrastructure to address unbilled consumption. Finally, water supply for communities can be improved.

Arial view, taken by the drone, of one of the communities which formed part of the initiative © Dawid Dirks

Celebrating the Municipal Green Economy Change Champions

The award ceremony will be showcased during an online event on the 12th October 2022 at 10:00, where the winning initiative will be announced. To join the event live, register here. To learn more about the Green Economy Change Champions within Local Government, click here.

We wish the City of uMhlathuze all the best!

Net Zero Water – an emerging water use efficiency concept for South African industries   

Site visit to the Atlantis Special Economic Zone

Water scarcity is a serious risk for South African industries and businesses. New concepts are needed to improve water security. On the 17th of August, NatuReS South Africa, led by representatives from the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), conducted a site visit to the Atlantis SEZ industrial sites and greater Atlantis industrial area. The visit followed the completion of a joint assignment on the development of a Concept and Process Analysis of Net Zero Water for the Atlantis SEZ. Net-Zero-Water means limiting the consumption of water resources and returning them back to the same watershed, so that the resource is not depleted in quantity or quality.

Site visit to Atlantis
From left to right: Michael Webbster (ASEZ), Amanda Nyingwa (GIZ NatuReS), Kaylyn Jansen (ASEZ), Florenchia Solomons (ASEZ) and Christelle Solomons (ASEZ). Copyright: GIZ NatuReS

For Atlantis SEZ, this means ensuring water resources are collected from sustainable sources and are used efficiently and responsibly, with any produced wastewater being cleaned and reused in that catchment. The visit provided valuable insights about the location of the SEZ’s industrial sites earmarked for further construction, the proximity of the industrial sites to the community and other industrialist, the types of industries that characterize the area, as well as the current socio-economic initiatives the Atlantis SEZ is engaged with.

Prior to the site visit, NatuReS attended the validation workshop for the development of a Net Zero Water Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Atlantis SEZ. The workshop was convened by the advisory Pegasys on behalf of the Atlantis SEZ and attended by representatives from the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa, Atlantis SEZ Community Stakeholder Network, City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership. The Strategy and Implementation Plan builds on the initial Concept and Process Analysis and defines concrete pathways and actions for realizing the SEZ’s net zero water ambitions. NatuReS is supporting this initiative by serving on the project steering committee and providing strategic technical input.

Atlantis SEZ “Working with Nature” project, initiated in partnership with the City of Cape Town, to remove alien invasive vegetation and develop a biodiversity land bank for indigenous plants to be replanted. Copyright: GIZ/Amanda Nyingwa

Managing water more effectively in South Africa: Launch of real-time flow tracking tools in the uMhlathuze River catchment

The uMhlathuze River Catchment in South Africa is located on the North-East coast of KwaZulu-Natal. In the past, droughts have posed a severe risk to the catchment. However, recently also destructive floods are threatening the area. Additionally, water quality is a major concern, particularly downstream. Partners under the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP) are working together to tackle these challenges in a collective way. However, while it is by now widely acknowledged that an integrated approach to water resource management is needed (IWRM), the success of IWRM has been hampered by factors like limited stakeholder engagement or the lack of integrative decision support systems and tools for good governance of water resources, especially due to a lack of resources and data.

Gauging Stations UWASP South Africa
Gauging Stations integrated in the Flow Tracker/INWARDS Lite. Copyright: AWARD

The Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) supports UWASP`s efforts for enhanced water security in the uMhlathuze River Catchment. On the 7th July 2022, AWARD and UWASP held a stakeholder workshop in Richards Bay for the launch of real-time flow tracking tools in the uMhlathuze River Catchment in support of integrated water resources management. The tools are supported by real-time data from water resources and users to assist authorities in making informed decisions on water management, while supporting stakeholder involvement in IWRM and raising awareness for a responsible use and management of water. The tools, when embedded in a robust and collaborative governance system, can support real-time flow monitoring at gauged stations. This enables compliance water monitoring and early warning systems as part of disaster preparedness and for planning and setting operating rules.

Flow Tracker South Africa
The current desktop version of the Flow Tracker. Copyright: AWARD

The work includes a desktop-based app as an integrated decisions-support system called “INWARDS-Lite” and the installation of additional flow monitoring equipment. It is supported by UWASP management and funding partners, including the National Business Initiative (NBI), WWF, the paper producer Mondi and NatuReS. The workshop brought together stakeholders from, or working in, the uMhlathuze River Catchment to the launch of a draft version of the “FlowTracker uMhlathuze” as well as the decision-support system “INWARDS-Lite”.

uMhlathuze Catchment Visit
Visit to the uMhlathuze River catchment and priority sites for the flow tracker, including the gauging stations. Copyright: GIZ/Lea Derr

Previously to the workshop, the AWARD team, together with UWASP and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) representatives, visited the catchment and the respective priority sites, including the gauging stations, to assess their status in person. Based on the workshop and feedback of the stakeholders, both the mobile and desktop versions will be refined. The final versions will be available in the beginning of October. The current versions of the tools can be accessed via:

NatuReS’ contribution at the 5th Biennial Industrial Efficiency Conference in South Africa

Industrial Efficiency Conference 2022
The 5th Biennial Industrial Efficiency Conference 2022 in South Africa took place on 25th and 26th of May.

On the 25th and 26th of May 2022, the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa hosted the 5th Biennial Industrial Efficiency Conference 2022. NatuReS participated in the conference with a specific contribution under the topic of Eco-Industrial Parks. Amanda Nyingwa presented on behalf of NatuReS on the role of water stewardship as a conduit for facilitating sustainable water management in industrial parks. Critically, the presentation mentioned the multi-level benefits of water stewardship for industrial parks, addressed the role of water stewardship in responding to water-related risks faced by industrial parks and emphasized the significance of guiding mechanisms for supporting the uptake of water stewardship in industrial parks with a spotlight on the Water Stewardship for Sustainable Water Management: Standard Operating Procedures for Industrial Parks (Water Stewardship SOPs). The Water Stewardship SOPs were developed in cooperation between NatuReS and the South African Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

Through a four-phased approach, the Water Stewardship SOPs support industrial parks, including park tenants, to holistically view their interaction with water and establish actions for efficient and sustainable water use within the facility, at park level and beyond park boundaries into the catchment. The value of this integrated approach is that it provides a basis for engagement in collective action for the shared management of a common resource and offers first level guidance for stewardship-embedded responses to support industrial parks on their journey towards water security. Moreover, it represents an opportunity for industrial parks to curate measures elevating their business competitiveness while enhancing their water security, both for their sites as well as the catchment, where their supply chain network and employees are located.

Download the Water Stewardship SOPs here.

The Industrial Efficiency Conference is a key calendar event in South Africa. The topics covered underscored that industrial areas have immense potential for substantial improvements in supporting  South Africa’s transition to a just green and resource-efficient economy. At the same time, the conference highlighted the significance of availing supportive structures, mechanisms and resources to ensure that that industrial areas are able to respond effectively to natural resources risks, enhance their competitiveness and support socio-economic growth.

To access the conference, sessions, presentations and pictures: Industrial Efficiency Conference 2022 archive – Industrial Efficiency

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NatuReS is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-funded by the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This website’s contents are the sole responsibility of GIZ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.

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