Breede Catchment Water Stewardship Programme
Woolworths, Marks and Spencer (M&S), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency have partnered with WWF South Africa on the various projects.
The first phase, in 2013 and 2014, set out to better understand and identify water risks for Cape agricultural producers, especially in the M&S supply chain. Stone-fruit production in the Breede catchment – particularly in the Ceres area – emerged as a water risk hotspot. Subsequently, water stewardship activities were initiated with farmers and local authorities. Promising results motivated for phase 2 to focus on collective action to address major water issues in the area. These included urban water-quality problems such as polluted rivers and leaking taps, clearing of water-thirsty invasive alien plants and the provision of water-related information to local farmers.
In the rural areas of the Witzenberg Municipality – Prince Alfred Hamlet and Nduli townships outside Ceres – volunteers from these communities have formed the ‘Witzenberg Water Savers’. This has been an important step in building a bottom-up initiative to empower rural-urban residents in tackling water-quality issues in the place where they live.
Another key to success has been collaboration with like-minded NGO partners, Emerging Leaders, GroundTruth and the Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT). While encouraging the uptake of water stewardship initiatives as well as awareness of the international AWS standard, the Breede Water Stewardship Project has also extended beyond the Breede Valley. It is important to link water stewardship initiatives throughout South Africa and to consider how lessons from existing stakeholders can also inform strategies and policies for water governance bodies such as the catchment management agencies (CMAs).