The rural communities in the Limpopo basin depend largely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. They are increasingly confronted with natural disasters ranging from extreme flooding to extensive droughts. Additionally deforestation and land degradation occurs in the basin as well. These factors all negatively impact availability and access to water for the communities in the basin. The communities face the consequences of limited access to water. On top of that they have hardly any access to up-to-date information about existing policies and plans or means to cope with water insecurity.
OXFAM launched the inclusive water governance program, aiming to bridge the gap between high level policies and implementation of interventions at community level. TNO in collaboration with Acacia Water and Dabane Trust carried out a baseline study for an evidence based approach to work towards more inclusive water governance in the basin. We made a framework with combination of 3 important parameters:
1. Biophysical data: geology and soils, climate data and hydrology
2. Socio economic data: population data, patterns of water use and consumption, future needs, (traditional) customs.
3. National policies, strategies and legislation
At basin level remote sensing data is processed. At local level environmental data is collected on the ground. Results from the data analysis are used in the Shake catchment to select suitable interventions for the farmers in this catchment. These interventions are implemented in order to make more water available and improve livelihoods of the local people.
This approach brings government, NGO’s and communities together; the government can concretize their policies, NGO’s can develop water projects that make sense and the communities can be supported to work on the right solutions. All levels work together to make more water available and to create equitable access to water. In this way, a bridge is built between high-level policies and the implementation of measures at community level.
The launched evidence based approach has resulted in improved understanding of the current situation both at community and at local government level. The environmental data and maps have helped both communities and government to implement the right interventions in the suitable locations.