News September 14, 2020

Transforming rivers in municipalities across KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Project Scale 7400 kilometres of 18 major riverine systems 17 municipalities within Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact
  • Outcome A Transformative River Management Programme (TRMP) concept note

The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (eThekwini Municipality) governs the greater Durban area, a coastal city containing 18 major river systems. Over the past 30 years, deteriorating river water quality and more frequent flooding have caused escalating costs to the city, businesses and citizens.

The eThekwini Municipality is currently implementing a Transformative River Management Programme (TRMP) which cares for the 7400 kilometres of 18 major riverine systems governed by the City. It is aimed at improved water quality and the reduction of flood risks.

To address the problem of water quality and flooding in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province, the CFF is conducting an inter-municipality knowledge exchange with the eThekwini Municipality. This exchange is an effort to improve the joint understanding of how to care for and restore riverine systems to protect vulnerable communities against floods and prevent damage to infrastructure across municipalities in KwaZulu Natal.

The exchange offers an opportunity for eThekwini and the CFF to share lessons learned on how to establish transformative riverine management projects. These include the Sihlanzimvelo programme, the Aller River project and the Green Corridors Programme. The workshops foster an exchange of knowledge between South African municipalities working on water and economic development, as many are working in parallel on similar projects.

The main outcome of these exchanges is knowledge sharing on transformative riverine management programmes with Durban to fast track climate resilience building in the KwaZulu Natal province. Having gone through the workshops, the host municipality will finish the program with a fully fleshed out Transformative River Management Programme (TRMP) concept note. The sessions cover topics such as:

  • The host municipality’s socio-economic context
  • Climate change impacts experienced & projected climate change
  • Climate change response to date
  • Turning theory into practice and finding a potential site for implementing a TRMP-like project
  • Presentation of climate change impacts experienced to date in eThekwini & projected climate change and associated impacts
  • The impacts of floods
  • Presentation of eThekwini’s TRMPs – with a focus on the design, implementation, engagements with affected communities, financing, M&E
  • Facilitated discussion/Q&A between host municipality and eThekwini 

The exchanges kicked off in May with a two-day programme between Durban and UMhlathze Municipality. It formed part of a series of engagements among municipalities within the Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact with shared catchment responsibilities. Some key information from the first set of exchanges is:

  • UMhlathuze (3 sessions of about 2.5 hours each on 19,20, 22 May): We had on average 23 participants and 100% of them found it valuable of which 95% found the knowledge exchange series very valuable. The Acting Municipal Manager attended and was very engaged during the discussions.
  • Kwadukuza (3 sessions of about 2.5 hours each on 17,18,19 June): We had on average 15 participants and 83% found the knowledge exchange series valuable or more. We had very senior leaders attend the meeting from various line departments.
  • eNdumeni (2 sessions of about 2.5 hours each on 08,09 July): We had on average 20 participants (including the Mayor for Session 1). 100% of the participants found the exchange valuable or more

 In September the exchanges proceeded into a series of write shops where municipalities were guided through a more detailed process of creating a program concept note. The write shops are composed of three separate sessions:

  • Workshop 1: Focus: Defining the components of the proposed riverine management project 
  • Workshop 2: Finalising the Theory of Change
  • Workshop 3: Preparing the resourcing needs/budget