SWPN newsletters

SWPN News Letter February v3 5 Page 1

The SWPN is proud to present its the first set of its newsletter publication to all stakeholders. These documents function as a repository of information on SWPN project progress to a broader audience with the aim of increasing the awareness of the initiative.

The publication will be released monthly for the next year and with its less formal style of writing, it presents good light reading that appeals to a different target audiences across the board.

To access a copy of the first SWPN newslettter, kindly click here

To access a copy of the second SWPN newsletter, kindly click here.

For more information on the SWPN and how to participate, kindly contact SWPN Programme Manager, Zama Siqalaba on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  



SWPN-SA developing three new working groups

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Since its inception in 2011, the SWPN has implemented water management projects under three focus working groups being Water use, Efficiency and Leakage Reduction (WELR); Agricultural Supply Chain water (ASC); and Effluent and Waste Water Management (EWWM). With successful initiatives such as the WELR’s ‘No Drop’ project and the ASC’s Water Administration System project, the SWPN has been considering the expansion of its scope in terms areas of project focus.

In the last quarter of 2015, the SWPN began to develop three new strategic working groups, which will design and implement water projects in South Africa whilst complementing the activities of the existing working groups. The new working groups are: Water Stewardship and Incentives (WSI); Skills Development and Transformation (SDT); and Sanitation (SANI).

For more information on these working groups and how to participate, kindly contact SWPN Programme Manager, Zama Siqalaba on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


MEDIA RELEASE: Roll out of new irrigation technology in agriculture key to saving water

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* SA’s agricultural sector uses 60% of the total fresh water consumed in SA each year.

* 30% of this could be saved with more efficient irrigation infrastructure and management.

* Water Administration System (WAS) project shows promising results.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016: Better use of irrigation technology geared towards water use efficiency could save millions of cubic metres of water in the agricultural sector in South Africa and contribute to water security, says the Strategic Water Partners Network South Africa (SWPN-SA).

As the biggest user of fresh water, the agricultural sector accounts for 60% of the total annual water demand in the country.

In view of its significant demand, agricultural and supply chain water management has been a key strategic work area of the SWPN-SA, a public-private-civil society sector partnership that aims to improve the future security of South Africa’s water since its inception in 2011.

The SWPN has supported projects such as the roll out of the Water Administration System (WAS), a water management tool for irrigation schemes to help manage their water usage, water distribution and water accounts. The initiative aims to minimise water losses on irrigation schemes that distribute water through canal networks. It has been rolled out in four irrigation schemes including Hartbeestpoort Irrigation Board, Vaalharts, Orange-Riet and Sand-Vet Water User Association. Preliminary results obtained for three of the four schemes supported indicate a combined reduction in water losses of nearly one million cubic metres per week.

Irrigated agriculture plays a major role in food security in South Africa. According to AgriSA, only 12% of South Africa’s landmass is considered arable with just 3% being truly fertile. Astonishingly, only 1,5% of the land is under irrigation and this produces 30% of the country’s crops. Accordingly, creativity and innovation are essential to improving and sustaining food security without compromising or increasing the water demand emanating from this sector says the SWPN.

During periods of drought, the need for efficient, effective irrigation systems becomes all the more critical. “The R1bn allocation in this year’s budget for drought relief is a welcome move,” says SWPN spokesperson, Zama Siqalaba. “By developing mechanisms that address aging and inefficient water infrastructure as well as unlocking funding for irrigation scheme upgrades and transformation, solutions to water shortages can be found.”

Research conducted by the Water Research Commission (WRC) shows that drip feed irrigation; proper scheduling of irrigation – watering at cooler times of the day for example; and irrigating appropriately for the different growth stages of crops plays an important role in making water usage more efficient. Professor Andries Jordaan, Director: Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC) at the University of the Free State, estimates that savings of up to 30% could be achieved by using more efficient irrigation systems.

A framework developed by the WRC points out that irrigation systems should apply the desired amount of water, uniformly, at the right rate to the whole field at the correct time. Getting the water to the root zone (where plants can optimise use) can also be achieved through modern drip feed technology.

In the Northern Cape’s grape growing region, other mechanisms such as shade nets have also proven to be a successful and effective water saving technique.

Many drought resistant varieties of the major crops are already being planted, and ‘drought proof’ commodities such as wool provide farmers with ways to cope with drought and water shortages. “We’ve found no correlation between the wool yield and drought, making it an excellent drought-proof product,” says Professor Jordaan.

According to Felix Reinders of the Agriculture Research Council’s Institute for Agricultural Engineering, rainfall varies greatly across the country, with wide fluctuations over the long-term. Between July 1960 and June 2004 for example, there were eight summer rainfall seasons where rainfall levels were less than 80% of normal ranges.

“Advances in meteorological programmes and technology have meant early warning systems which predict extreme weather patterns such as droughts and floods are becoming more and more accurate,” says Professor Jordaan.

Given climate change and the increased demand for food and water, implementing smart technologies in the management of water in the agricultural sector should be prioritised. By simultaneously implementing proper operations and maintenance measures on irrigation schemes, increased water availability for poor and disadvantaged farming communities could also be ensured. For this possibility to be realised, collaboration between government, agricultural organisations, research institutions, farmers and business - the very tenet upon which the SWPN-SA was established - is essential for future water security in South Africa.



SA's National Drought


SA private sector (heavy water users) comment on the national drought. 


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Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - South African government, private sector and civil society comment on the national drought providing predictions and recommendations that may improve the situation. 


Public Private Partnerships needed to address drought in SA 


South Africa's freshwater resources are currently under serious threat due to the prevailing drought conditions that has impacted several provinces, notably KwaZulu Natal, Free State, North West and Gauteng. A call is made for all South Africans, including businesses, to review their current water use and management practices and continue to become more water efficient and water conscious. The drought is having a significant impact on the agricultural and municipal sectors. Should the drought prolong and intensify it could further impact other provinces and sectors of the economy, society and our natural ecosystems. The time for collective effort and action is now!

The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) is a public-private civil society partnership working progressively to address key water challenges facing South African water users. A particular focus is on contributing to achieving efficient, equitable and sustainable access to water for all South Africans through the identification and application of innovative and cost effective water solutions and programmes. The SWPN, which comprises leading government institutions and private sector companies in water stewardship, is calling on all businesses, government departments and ministries as well as all communities and citizens in South Africa to save water and use it sparingly. The SWPN supports government's efforts and interventions to ensure access to water and sanitation during this drought period and to minimise the drought's negative impact on society, agriculture, the economy and the environment.

We all need to take individual responsibility and work with our families, communities, schools and businesses to conserve and protect our water resources. We make a special plea to all companies and businesses to take extra measures to reduce avoidable water losses, re-use and recycle water within their operations and to also educate employees, communities and school learners on ways to save water at work, schools and homes. We advocate the adoption of schools and municipalities by businesses and their investment in water loss reduction measures and programmes undertaken by the local authorities within their areas of operation. Other interventions that businesses could implement include:

  • Report leaking taps and pipelines to your maintenance department, local municipality or the water board for repairs;
  • Reduce, Recycle and Re-use water within operations;
  • Monitoring of on-site water losses and undertaking immediate repairs;
  • Educate and create awareness on the importance of water and the supply risks amongst employees;
  • Optimise efficiency of irrigation water use and invest in the removal of alien invasive vegetation;
  • Invest in training and capacity building particularly in the agriculture, mining and municipal sectors to ensure optimal operation of systems, minimisation of water losses as well as reduction and prevention of pollution;
  • Sponsorship of electronic and fixed billboards to display water conservation messages in support of drought relief measures;
  • Consider the inclusion of water conservation and efficiency tips on product packaging and service material as part of their internal marketing and communication campaigns; and
  • Consider the inclusion of drought messaging in advertising campaigns on radio, television, print and social media

Water Services Authorities and Government entities are urged to:

Vigorously undertake a war on leaks and WC/WDM programmes for the reduction of water losses which may include pressure management, leak detection and repair of bulk and reticulation infrastructure as well as repair and retrofitting of leaking household fittings for indigent consumers

  • Prioritise and expedite the repair of burst pipes within 48 hours as stipulated in the Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) Regulations 509 of 2001;
  • Encourage reporting of water leakage by communities and make facilities available for this purpose;
  • Incentivise the implementation of water efficiency measures by stakeholders; and
  • Ensure that all government buildings are fitted with water efficient devices and that no irrigation takes place during the day 


Civil Society and Political leaders are encouraged to:

  • Ensure the prevailing drought conditions and water conservation are a standing item on every community and public meeting agenda;
  • Use sports and community cultural events as platforms to promote water conservation;
  • Advocate water conservation through every civil society network utilising creative avenues including music, drama, poetry and art;
  • Report burst leaks to their municipalities and fix all leaking taps and toilets;
  • Re-use grey water for cleaning, garden watering, and washing cars; and
  • Ensure that no tap is left running during everyday activities i.e. brushing teeth, washing dishes etc.


Through the public-private partnership that has been created under the SWPN, there are a number of initiatives being implemented, such as the Water Administration System water release module implemented in several large water schemes, which has resulted in savings of approximately 48 million m³/per annum through improving on scheme water use efficiency. In addition, the partnership has supported the establishment of key assessment tools such as the National No Drop Programme aimed at supporting Non-Revenue Water reduction and water loss management in the urban water supply sector.

The partnership is also exploring sustainable mine water management solutions and the upscaling of mine water treatment projects by coal mines operating in the Olifants River Catchment and is also exploring the re-use of treated effluent from municipal waste water plants.

Let's work together today to save every drop to ensure a better tomorrow for all.

The Strategic Water Partners Network is hosted by the Nepad Business Foundation and supported and funded by: Department of Water and Sanitation, SAB, 2030 Water Resources Group, GIZ, ABSA, Anglo American, Coca Cola, Eskom, Exxaro, Nestle, Sasol, South32, City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, SALGA, Johannesburg Water, Rand Water, Endangered Wildlife Trust, South African Irrigation Institute, WWF, Water Research Commission, SIWI.


For more information, please contact:

Zama Siqalaba 

Programme Manager,

Strategic Water Partners Network of South Africa.


Tel: 010 596 1888

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  










SWPN meets with Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation to discuss the National Drought Startegy

2012 10largeimg204 Oct 2012 150452240On Wednesday 12 August 2015, members of the SWPN met with the Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Ms Nomvula Mokonyane to discuss the current drought situation in South Africa and to pull in resource to execute the National Drought Strategy. Since inception, the SWPN has been working closely with the DWS and various Municipalities to execute public-private partnership projects to reduce the 17% water gap projected for 2030.  

According to Minister Mokonyane, there is an urgent need to expedite the review of the Water Services Act and the National Water Act and to create an enabling environment for better management of water resources; including the capacity of local government to fulfil its water services mandate. She further emphasised the importance of incorporating all role players including government, industry and civil society into efforts to conserve water going forward.

The SWPN committed to increase its efforts to reduce water losses and aligning its activities to the ‘War on Leaks’ initiative which links with the national efforts to conserve water resources.


SWPN Making Waves in Securing the Future of Our Water Resources

Picture2The establishment of the SWPN in 2011 arose from a global concern over the widening gap between the supply and demand of water in South Africa. The gap is forecast to reach an alarming 17% by the year 2030 and infrastructure development is limited in its capacity for intervention. This awareness subsequently triggered a response from water stewards across sectors of business, industry, government, and civil society with the common mandate of managing South Africa’s water resources in the most innovative ways possible.

Four years later, the SWPN has made great strides in both sustainable water use and collective action, with government championing the partnership and the private sector mobilising funds and expertise. The SWPN model was donned the best practice model by the 2030 Water Resources Group in 2014; a pioneer from which other developing countries can garner knowledge. Mexico, for instance, demonstrated interest in gaining understanding from the No Drop Project.  

The “No Drop Programme” (a water use efficiency system) has been rolled out in several municipalities nationwide with the aim of reducing both water losses and leakages within the municipal network. It then enables these municipalities to bring in experts and introduce technologies by using the financial resources saved through the use of “No Drop”.  

As it stands, an integrated irrigation water management tool (WAS) designed by the Agricultural Supply Chain division of the SWPN has been introduced to four irrigation systems and the project has already seen a considerable reduction in water loss.  

During a meeting held in October 2015 the Minister of Water & Sanitation (DWS), Nomvula Mokonyane, highlighted a need within the DWS for additional support in the areas of Skills and Capacity Building; Water Stewardship as well as Sanitation.  The  SWPN carried this mandate forward by setting up task teams to address this and either provide additional support to the already existing Working Groups, namely Effluent and Wastewater Management; the Agriculture Supply Chain and Water Use Efficiency and Leakage Reduction, or alternatively incorporate them into the groups. 

The task teams convened throughout the month of May and the SWPN looks forward to the outputs of this gathering as they endeavour to upskill the municipalities and build capacity across all three working group focus areas. The progress of SWPN is undisputable as evidenced by ongoing project implementation and development across the board. 


Sustaining mine water management beyond mine closure

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The SWPN is leading a joint public-private sector-civil society programme to find a sustainable long-term solution for managing excess mine water (often Acid Mine Drainage -AMD, in the Witbank coalfields). The Effluent and Waste Water Management working group of the SWPN decided to focus on defining the financial, institutional and policy changes that should be implemented to enable such a solution. This focus came about in part from the recognition that treating excess mine water to any "fit for use" quality is technically feasible, is becoming more financially viable through rapid technological development and is well demonstrated in South Africa. It is the sustenance of current and future investments in technical solutions beyond mine closure that is problematic and requires correct financing and institutional models and implied supporting policies.

For any financial and institutional models to work, they should be backed by key mining and water stakeholders. In the Witbank coal mining area, where the SWPN's work is now focused, these stakeholders are the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Department of Mineral Resources, coal mining companies, municipalities and other potential water users of treated excess mine water. Turning the goodwill of the stakeholders into actual commitment to a sustainable solution required that they jointly define a problem statement before embarking on a journey to develop a solution. This is already a significant step forward, as it is the first time the public, private, and other stakeholders have come together to identify and agree on the key issues that need to be addressed. The work has been completed and has paved the way for defining the types of collaborative interventions and institutions required in the Witbank coal mining area. So how exactly was the problem of managing mine water sustainability in the long term defined? 

The problem analysis carried out by a multi- stakeholder group resulted in a clustering of twelve primary issues, some of which are relevant to the type of facility and others to the mining region.

The primary issues are represented in the system diagram below in terms of their impact and arranged according to the stage in mining life cycle (which coincides with the stage of development of the region) as well as whether they relate primarily to the individual facility or an entire mining region.

It became apparent from this system analysis that the fundamental AMD problem is driven by the following main clusters of issues (red stars on cluster diagram):

 Diverse understanding, perceptions and responses by mining companies to AMD depending on whether it is a small scale miner or established miner

 Inconsistency, incoherence and weak enforcement of regulations on mining in terms of AMD

 Unclear AMD mine closure and liability requirements, resulting in inadequate AMD financing 

 Inadequate regional planning and cooperation for AMD, related to water quality and supply

Phase 2 of the project has just begun. It makes use of the results above and will entail an options analysis for collaborative interventions that can be carried out at various scales and the establishment of a mining area and catchment wide institution that would coordinate these interventions.

If you would like know more about this work or get involved contact the SWPN Secretariat on email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


News from the World Economic Forum (WEF)

4On 8 May 2013, the SWPN and the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) held a session at WEF called "African Pathfinders: Shared Action towards a Water Secure Future."

At the session, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Ms Edna Molewa presented the first wave of projects from the SWPN, sharing lessons with Tanzanian counterparts as well business and political leaders. Participants at the session reflected on the key learnings that are most important to spread and embed in future partnerships so as to enhance sustainability and impact.

The event was successful in showcasing the SWPN model of partnership between the private and public sectors and civil society. The SWPN also shared its new brochure "Creating shared value through innovative partnerships."

For more information on this article and other related topics please contact Nick Tandi on  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

SWPN Working Group Project: Water Efficiency and Leak Reduction (WELR)

2A recent Water Research Commission report shows that water losses via municipal supply and distribution systems is just  over 25% - a volume of 1,090 million kilolitres. It is therefore not surprising that the President announced in his 2010 State of the Nation Address that "We will be putting in place measures to reduce our water loss by half by 2014."

Based on the previous Department of Water Affairs experience in developing the Green and Blue Drop incentivisation programmes, the SWPN WERL working group is developing a "No Drop Certification strategy and scorecard". This supports the national thrust to address water losses in municipal supply systems as emphasized by the National Water Resource Strategy. The name No Drop is provisional. Another suggestion is that it could be called the Silver Drop.

For more information on this article and other related topics please contact Nick Tandi on  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

SWPN Working Group Project: Agriculture and Supply Chain (ASC) Water

1South Africa's largest irrigation scheme, the Vaalharts, has been identified as an area for SWPN intervention. An estimated 20% of the water in the scheme is lost in distribution. Further to this, savings of about 10% of water are also estimated to be possible through improved farming practices. Given the scale and complexity of the Vaalharts, a process of selecting specific areas of engagement is underway and includes all key relevant partners. 

 The SWPN ASC working group will develop a concept and package projects for how the private sector could become involved in improving irrigation performance and water use efficiency in the scheme.   

For more information on this article and other related topics please contact Nick Tandi on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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