Accepted water resource management practices

High population growth rates, rapid urbanisation, unsustainable exploitation of water resources for industrial and agricultural purposes, as well as the continued degradation of freshwater resources through waste discharges, are but some of the factors which have in the past led to improper water resource management (WRM) in many developing countries. Over the water decade (and thereafter), integrated water resource management has featured prominently at a number of global meetings, conferences and symposia (e.g. the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit) resulting in the international acceptance and recognition of a number of primary WRM principles and approaches for the potable water supply and sanitation sector. These principles can now form the basis for sound integrated WRM when water and sanitation projects are developed. Findings from a participative assessment - carried out on two Mvula Trust funded projects in the Mpumalanga Province – to evaluate the implementation of these WRM principles, indicate a very encouraging degree of adherence. However, problems such as the need to carry out need assessments and thence the tailoring of training capacity building programmes to suit the local project. The WRM principle that “efficient water use is essential and often an important water resource” could never be truer as this part of the country is very water scarce. The paper also makes a suggestion that whilst delivery is the primary objective, planners and implementing agents need to conciously incorporate WRM planning considerations when implementing new projects.

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