Case study on river management: South African catchments

This is essentially an unstable waterfall, constantly eating away at the soil and sending it ... rel=
This is essentially an unstable waterfall, constantly eating away at the soil and sending it downstream. As it does so, it creates a gully into which all moisture flows, essentially draining the wetland.
© WWF-Canon / Chris MARAIS
Covering many South African river basins, the 'Working for Wetlands' programme operates in all major catchments.

So far the programme has been active in about 15 river basins, including the upper reaches of tributaries of the Limpopo, Tugela, Vaal, Nkomati, Oliphants, and Usutu Rivers. They have also been working on smaller river systems such as Berg, Umzimvubu, Black Umfolozi, Krom, Kouga, Blood, Breede, and Sand Rivers.

Half the wetlands lost
65% of South Africa receives less than 500mm average annual rainfall, meaning that drought is an ever-present risk.

Future projections indicate that by 2025 the country's water requirements will outstrip supply unless urgent steps are taken to manage the resource more sustainably.

There are already major problems of supply and quality, with an estimated 8 million South Africans currently having no access to potable water.

The growing water crisis is exacerbated by the fact that about half of South Africa's wetlands have been lost. Poverty levels are also extremely high.

It is against this background that the South African government, working in partnership with WWF and others, has initiated catchment management programmes, including the control of waterthirsty alien plant infestations and wetland restoration, across the country, under the banners 'Working for Water' and 'Working for Wetlands'.

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