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The Value of Water in the Nelson Mandela Bay Area

Drought and scarcity of water can have devastating impacts on the social and economic development of a region, as can be seen in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, which is suffering from an ongoing drought and water crisis. In order to shed light on the impacts and evaluate different mitigation scenarios, the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) as part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Water & Economic Resilience Partnership commissioned the Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) to analyse the impact of water scarcity and effects of different mitigation scenarios on economic growth and human wellbeing for the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) area and South Africa as a whole. The macroeconomic study found, by using a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) Model, that improving water saving and reducing non-revenue water will have the most positive effects in terms of GDP and employment, while other measures such as water pricing and reuse and desalination will have little or no positive effects. Not addressing water scarcity will have the most negative effects with a decrease of GDP and loss of jobs.

Aerial view of the Nelson Mandela Bay area. Copyright: Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber

Apart from knowing about the impacts of scarcity, it is also very important to identify the most suitable areas for catchment restoration and management activities. Therefore, NatuReS within the framework of the Nelson Mandela Bay Water & Economic Resilience Partnership and the Algoa Bay Water Fund commissioned the economic consultancy StratEcon to do a comparative analysis of the three Eastern Cape catchments Kouga, Kromme and Baviaanskloof regarding their macroeconomic and water profiles. This way, the most attractive one to potential funders for restoration and catchment management activities should be identified. By firstly conducting a baseline study of the physical and economic environments of the catchments and subsequently calculating a multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA), the Kouga catchment was identified as the most suitable for potential funders.

These findings shall help to inform policymakers and funders to focus their endeavours on the right measures to address the water security challenges in NMB. NatuReS aims to support solutions that improve water security, ensure livelihood strategies and safeguard economic investment through a natural resource stewardship approach, while protecting upstream landscape integrity. For this, the two comprehensive studies were concisely summarised and published as informative brochures to promote stewardship in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and beyond. Please find the brochure “The economic impacts of water insecurity” here and “Economic Baseline and Comparative Analysis” here.

Community awareness and education campaigns in the Nelson Mandela Bay City region

The impact of COVID-19 in South Africa has been particularly dire. One region that has been significantly affected by the pandemic is the Nelson Mandela Bay City region in the Eastern Cape.

The impact on economic development, health, and community life across the city has been unprecedented, and has worsened hardships faced by already vulnerable communities. This led to an urgent call for collaborative responses by private, public and community stakeholders.

A community education workshop educating participants about the virus and its dangers. Due to lockdown regulations, restrictions on gatherings are in place; participant numbers have to be kept to a minimum with social distancing observed at all times.
Copyright: Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber

To support the efforts, NatuReS South Africa partnered with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (NMBBC) under the umbrella of the “Nelson Mandela Bay Stewardship Partnership Initiative”. They launched various awareness campaigns that promote behavioural change at a community level. This includes implementing education programmes for schools and communities, and community-based healthcare facilities on good Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) principles, especially hand washing and social distancing behaviour.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and water was distributed to vulnerable communities.

For vulnerable communities and schools:

– 1158 Surgical Masks
– 814 5-litre bottles of sanitiser
– 4883 5-litre bottles of water

For healthcare facilities:

– 42 boxes of gloves
– 1483 gowns

Additionally, community engagement workshops as well as media-, radio- and poster campaigns in local languages took place. An extensive school PPE and COVID-19 awareness campaign is currently being developed to ensure safe reopening of schools. Further measures include educating community healthcare workers on safe waste disposal of used COVID-19 testing kits at local clinics. Through the Chamber’s leading role, these actions directly feed into the Nelson Mandela Bay City Command Council’s emergency response to COVID-19.

Bottled water and sanitisers ready to be handed out in communities, healthcare facilities and schools
Copyright: Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber
One of the media advertising campaign posters
Copyright: Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber