South Africa

Our Work in South Africa

Our Role

In 2010, the 2030 WRG published Charting Our Water Future, which highlighted that competing demands for water would be a considerable global challenge in the future. The document used case studies on four countries, including South Africa, to provide a global perspective on the scale of the water challenge. The publication helped to focus attention and elevate the subject of the water gap up the agenda of stakeholders in South Africa.

In an effort to combat South Africa’s pressing water concerns, Edna Molewa, South Africa’s former Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, requested the 2030 WRG to help set up a neutral and transparent Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) to meet the government’s strategic objectives for water.

The network, inaugurated in November 2011, brings together senior government representatives, leading private sector corporations, and other key stakeholders to discuss South Africa’s water challenges. It is the “go-to” MSP for government and business to address the country’s most pressing water issues: improving water efficiency and reducing leakage, managing effluent and wastewater, and managing agricultural and supply-chain water.

The Sustainable Water Partners Network (SWPN) Steering Committee provides the overall strategic direction and is made up of the DWS, the 2030 WRG, key companies, civil society, and invited organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund South Africa. The SWPN partnership is hosted by the NEPAD Business Foundation.

The projects coordinated through the SWPN’s three thematic working groups have led to the implementation of the No Drop program to reduce water losses in municipalities, a Mine Water Coordinating Body in the Mpumalanga Coalfields to drive sustainable mine water management, and the roll-out of an irrigation management system in large irrigation schemes to reduce water losses.

The SWPN has thus established itself as a leading vehicle to foster collaboration across government, industry, and civil society – a way of working that has proven to be exemplary across sectors and borders. This role of the SWPN is now formally identified in the National Water Resources Strategy.


The SWPN was awarded the 2018 State-of-the-Art Partnership of the Year Award in the clean water category at the 2018 Partnership for Growth (P4G) Summit in Copenhagen as part of a global showcase of innovative private-public partnerships that have made a significant impact in driving sustainable development and climate action.

Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme Upgrade

The SWPN is supporting the National Agricultural Marketing Council in securing financing for the upgrade of the Vaalharts, South Africa’s oldest and largest irrigation scheme covering over 35,000 ha. The SWPN has unlocked infrastructure upgrade investments worth R7million. The upgraded scheme has the potential to achieve water savings of approximately 40 million m³/annum.

Water Administration System (WAS) Project

The WAS is an automated water management tool for irrigation schemes to manage their water usage, water distribution, and water accounts. To date, the initiative has reduced freshwater abstraction by 55 million m³ per year across nine irrigation schemes, equivalent to about 2% of the water gap between water supply and demand (of 2.7 billion m³ per year) anticipated in 2030.

Mine Water Management (MWM) Project

The MWM is a three-phase approach to address water pollution problems caused by mine-impacted waters.

  • A Mine Water Coordinating Body (MWCB) was established to coordinate regional planning and management of mine-impacted water. Based on its success to date, the Mineral Council of South Africa plans to replicate the model in other mining areas. Various mining companies have made financing commitments to the MWCB for the next three years.
  • MWCB, together with the Water Research Commission of South Africa and private companies within the mining sector, are carrying out a project to use saline mine water treatment for agriculture. A maize crop was planted in September 2017 with the first results on crop growth expected in the first quarter of 2018. A substantive evaluation of the pilot requires about 24 months.
No Drop Programme Phase 2

The No Drop Programme is a water-use efficiency rating system aimed at municipalities to encourage performance excellence through a rewards and penalties system. The No Drop is a simple scorecard that assesses and ranks municipalities on water losses, revenue collection, and water use efficiency. All municipalities in South Africa have been assessed using the three most essential KPAs of the No Drop scorecard (3% No Drop data), and all 8 metropolitan municipalities have been audited against the full scorecard with seven KPAs.