The uMngeni River Basin in KwaZulu-Natal is a focal area of the research being carried out by the International Water Security Network (IWSN). Water from the river basin serves the needs of South Africa’s third largest regional economy and of over five million people.
In conducting this research it has become apparent that the public and technical specialists alike have a poor understanding of the basin and the management challenges it faces. Moreover, postgraduate students working on aspects of water resource management in the basin would benefit from a general overview as a context for their more detailed studies.
With this in mind, Duncan Hay, Executive Director of the Institute of Natural Resources and a member of the IWSN research team, compiled Our Water, Our Future, an overview of the river basin and the issues facing it. He says it is abundantly clear that “our river basin is in a very unhealthy and steadily deteriorating ecological state – it is being subjected to slow but intense violence. As a consequence it is vulnerable and, with it, the socio-economic system that is dependent on it. The resilience of the entire river basin social-ecological system is at risk. Urgency is the order of the day.”
He has kept the report as non-technical and ‘non-academic’ as possible so that anyone can pick it up and read it in about an hour, and understand the main points. He has not shied away from expressing some fairly strong opinions that many might disagree with. He reasons that “it is through disagreement and contestation that we learn.”
The district municipality, which received an advanced draft, has praised the publication and is already distributing it amongst staff.