Aerial picture of George Hops growing region, Western Cape

South Africa – Economic Growth Powered by its Diverse Natural Resources

South Africa is one of the three most biodiverse countries in the world. It also constitutes the second largest economy in Africa, thanks to the wealth and diversity of its natural capital and water resources. Human development has, however, put severe strain on the environment and the functioning of its eco-systems. The quantity and quality of its natural resources, especially water, is becoming a priority concern. A concerted effort across all sectors is required to safeguard environmental integrity and resilience. This also aligns with the South African National Development Plan 2030 (NDP), which identifies the building of environmental sustainability and water resilience as a national imperative for economic growth.

Partnerships in South Africa

Fences controlling soil erosion in a field

Knowledge management helps to protect South Africa’s water resources.

uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP)

Location: Richardsbay, KwaZulu-Natal

Aim: Improved management of water resources across industry, agriculture and communities

Background: The uMhlathuze River catchment area in KwaZulu-Natal encompasses the city of Richards Bay, extensive irrigated agriculture, forest plantations, industrial complexes and various mining operations. The area relies heavily on the availability of water: Industry underpins the local economy and agriculture is a significant employer of communities in the area.

NatuReS working areas: Cities, Catchments

Partners: National Business Initiative, WWF South Africa, Tongaat Hulett South Africa, Mondi and GIZ NatuReS, the City of uMhlathuze, the National Department of Water and Sanitation

Nelson Mandela Bay Water and Economic Resilience Stewardship Partnership (NMBSP)

Location: Eastern Cape

Aim: Implementing solutions to safeguard water security, livelihood strategies and economic investment while protecting upstream landscape integrity

Background: The Nelson Mandela Bay City Region in the Eastern Cape is the hub of the automotive industry in Africa. It is also central to the country’s tourism and agricultural export sectors. The ongoing drought therefore threatens the region’s economic development and the well-being of its inhabitants.

NatuReS working areas: Cities, Catchments

Partners: The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Santam, the Department of Cooperative Governance, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Development Agency and Living Lands

Enhancing Collaboration between Lesotho and South Africa

Location: Orange Senqu Basin

Establishing a cross boundary water stewardship platform to create long-term benefits for private and public sector stakeholders on both sides of the border   

Background: Lesotho’s water resources are critical for the welfare of sustainable livelihoods, economic action and ecosystems protection of the country. As an important water source area for the Orange Senqu Basin, its catchment management initiatives also remain a vital life force for sustained economic and social security of other riparian countries as well as for South Africa as the regional economic centre. The project allows to explore principles of sound water governance and effective integrated water resource management.  


  • Analysis of the catchment, its shared water resources and its hydrological features
  • Evaluation of the social and economic context of the two countries and their shared history with regard to water security and natural resources protection
  • Macro-economic study on the economic and social value of water

NatuReS working areas: Catchments

Partners: GIZ ICM Programme in Lesotho, SASOL., ESKOM, RANDWATER, etc.

NatuReS’ Cooperation with the Siyazisiza Trust

Aim: Promoting extended access to value chains for smallholder farmers

The Siyazisiza Trust is a non-profit organisation that provides support to smallholder farmers. Under UWASP, NatuReS supports the Siyazisiza Trust with the training and mentoring of smallholder farmers in Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). Covering the efficient use of resources, the trainings prepare them for an annual local GAP assessment. Passing this assessment enables smallholder farmers to access formal markets and supply their fresh produce.

Members of the Sivukile cooperative preparing the land
Copyright: Siyazisiza Trust

Selected Strategic Initiatives

Strategic Water Partners Network: A public and private platform for strategic water uses in South Africa

Water Resilient Cities Initiative: A learning collaboration together with South African Local Government Association, South African Cities Network, USAID WASH-FIN, 2030WRG and selected cities in South Africa

Resilient Economic Zones and Industrial Parks: Support embedding of water stewardship and resource use efficiency in industrial parks together with the Department of Trade and Industry and Innovation.

Partner Voices

“Through the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme GIZ is partnering with various South African companies and collective initiatives to tackle the most pressing of societal challenges. Both SASOL and the Strategic Water Partners Network continues to benefit from this cooperation aimed to catalyse much-needed change. Our collective objective is to advance stewardship practices over things we don’t own but over which we collectively care a lot about. We sincerely thank GIZ and the NatuReS programme for this continued support.”

Martin Ginster – Sasol, private sector co-chair Strategic Water Partners Network

“The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber in South Africa is delighted to partner with GIZ’s NatuReS Programme. Through the Nelson Mandela Bay Stewardship Initiative a number of high-impact innovative solutions have been implemented. These include a contribution towards safeguarding water security, investments and livelihoods. We appreciate the role played by GIZ NatuReS in our region in catalysing economic development, including the green economy. We have also gained a number of critical stakeholders through this very partnership.”

Nomkhita Mona – Chief Executive Office of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber


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The Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), 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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