Partnership working in South Africa

15 March 2018


JNCC has successfully completed a piece of work that could help to improve the management of water resources for the 55 million population of South Africa.


The Realizing the Ecological Reserve in a Time of Change symposium in Pretoria was held earlier this year to help public water bodies better implement the 1998 South African National Water Act. It was put forward as a solution by JNCC and its South African partners, the FrePresenter at symposium ©JNCCshwater Research Centre and Institute of Natural Resources.


The Act came into force 20 years ago to ensure there was sufficient water in the country’s rivers for both biodiversity and for people. However, this is a difficult balance to achieve and, despite being considered at the time the most advanced water legislation in the world, enforcing the act has proved very challenging.


Working with our partners in South Africa, JNCC engaged with a team of multi-disciplinary experts, including implementers and the academics who worked on the National Water Act, to come together at the February symposium to identify ways to manage water resources in the country and find solutions to the enormous challenges it faces.


Senior Species Advisor, Dr Anthony Maddock, who led JNCC’s involvement in the event, said: “The importance of freshwater in South Africa cannot be overstated: it is the country’s primary resource. Much of South Africa is relatively dry and people, biodiversity, agriculture and business all rely on the country’s freshwater supply so we were pleased to be involved with this process.”


The symposium was not a typical one: it was designed to bring together the right people to create a set of real, practical solutions and demonstrate commitments to this most challenging of problems. Following on from the symposium, a report will be produced that will identify a way forward for the country’s water authorities.


Dr Maddock added: “JNCC will continue to work with local partners and we hope in the very near future that our joint efforts will enable some tangible work to take place and that South Africa’s freshwater supply will be improved for the environment and for its people. This is a good example of JNCC finding solutions to conservation problems at an international level.”